Taxi drivers

Threat of chaos as taxi drivers vow to block Sandwell Aquatics Center during Games

Taxi drivers block traffic in West Bromwich

More than 100 drivers demonstrated outside Oldbury Council House today ahead of the Sandwell Council plenary meeting.

The Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association (SPHDA) has vowed to cause havoc during the Games after meeting with Sandwell Council officials last week.

Drivers are calling on the Sandwell Council to reduce license fees and the number of car safety checks, improve driver health conditions and allow MOT checks to be carried out by local mechanics instead of being forced to use the authority’s only garage, which they claim is unfit. for purposes.

SPHDA spokesman Mohammed Niwaz said: “We were told the council would look into our complaints and sort out what they could by March next year.

“Well, it would be right before the election, so the new administration could change everything. Basically, they offered us lollipops and we won’t accept them.”

He said: “We’ll park all around the Aquatics Center every day of the Commonwealth Games and create a blockade, maybe Sandwell’s council will listen then.”

The threat from the taxi drivers is all the more real since, being all independent, they do not need to vote like the railway workers and refuse the workers who also threatened to strike during the games.

The Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which was delivered on time at a cost of £78million, is the only purpose-built venue for the Commonwealth Games and will be transformed into a giant leisure center after the games.

During the games, swimmers, water polo teams and divers will compete for glory in front of thousands of spectators.

Explaining the taxi driver’s grievances, Mr Niwaz said: ‘We have to pay the highest license fee, almost £400. We can’t just go to a doctor for a health check, but through the council’s occupational health service, which can take months, where in Birmingham and Wolverhampton they are seen by doctors straight away.

“Sandwell Council is killing the taxi industry in the borough. Our costs have skyrocketed recently. I’ve been a taxi driver for 40 years and have never known it so badly. Before it was £45 to drive full but now it’s £70 so knowing we’re paying hundreds of pounds more because we’re in Sandwell than the drivers in Dudley, Wolverhampton and Birmingham is disgusting.”

Sandwell’s council has been contacted for comment.