Taxi driver laments stringent inspection process at RTD
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While members of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union alleged earlier this week that they were being victimized in their efforts to get taxi’s licensed at the Road Traffic Department (RTD), Bradley Sands, the acting director at RTD, said it is simply his aim to improve the standard of taxi cabs and drivers should meet this standard.
“Everything is good in this country until something happens. There are standards that are set out in the regulations that deal with the inspection of vehicles, and if those vehicles meet that that standard, then there would be no challenges.
“Meet the standard. For too long we have been accepting anything,” Sands told Eyewitness News Online.
A taxi driver who spoke to Eyewitness News Thursday on the condition of anonymity, said taxi drivers visiting the Road Traffic Department for inspections are now being hassled for minor issues.
“Taxis are inspected twice a year, May and October, but let’s say you have a dent or a scratch on your car; they would pass your car only on the condition that when you come in October, you would have had that dent or scratch removed,” the taxi driver claimed.
“For whatever reason, since May 1, they have decided that every taxi must be showroom perfect.
“If it has a small dent, a scratch or anything they could see with the visible eye, they don’t care about the cost, but they want you to go to a body[shop] man, take two or three days off and get it repaired before they license the vehicle.
“Previously, it was the light, horn, wipers, signal and brake lights [checked to pass inspection]. Now it is air-conditioning, the spare tire, jack, tire wrench. The guys are actually coming into your taxi to feel that your air-condition is cool enough. If there is a tear of any kind or a visible stain, you will fail [inspection]as well,” claimed that taxi driver of 19 years.
The taxi driver said the changes at the RTD are a “surprise attack” for many drivers.
“Normally there is a lead-up for these changes that we prepare for [in May for October] but they decided to change it without any warning,” the driver claimed.
The irate cab driver said as it now stands, many cab drivers cannot meet the standard and the RTD must stop its ‘knit-picking’.
“If the car is mashed or if a light is broken out then we understand, but we are talking about a scratch on a bumper and in the taxi business we park close to each other, so there would be a scratch on your car and for things like that, we should not be made to pay $500 to repair a scratch.”
The cab driver also referred to the new requirements at the RTD is an “attack” on drivers and the amount of money that they can make.
He said operating a taxi is also a very expensive venture.
“To be a cab driver we have to do Baha Host every three years, that is $150; you must have your public service driver’s license at $40; your driver’s license is $20. Every year you have to get your police and traffic record renewed, just to go in to be a cab driver. We put in all that plus we pay an extra $10 on our licensing fees as a public service driver.”
In response to these concerns, Sands, the RTD Acting Controller, told Eyewitness News Online that when a person travels the world, they would see a level of uniformity in taxi cabs. He also noted that he is concerned if a vehicle does not meet a particular standard while transporting passengers, especially tourists.
“The first person they would point to is the Road Traffic Department and ask how did that vehicle get on the road, was it street worthy,” Sands explained. “Everything is good until something happens. There is a standard; meet the standard. Hertz is not complaining, Avis is not complaining, Bahamas Tour is not complaining, Leisure Tours is not complaining and Richard Moss is not complaining.
“I am not concerned about the complaints. The situation needs to be fixed and I am not waiting for an incident to occur and then the police investigate the accident they find that all the tires are bald or the vehicle was not street worthy, I am not waiting or that. There is standard, let them meet the standard and once they meet the standard, they will be able to pass [inspection].
“Me, as the acting controller, I have a job to do. I have to make sure that whenever vehicles are on this road they are protected and are street worthy. I am concerned about keeping the citizens and the visitors of this country safe.”
Sands also refuted the claims of Bahamas Taxi Cab Union president, Wesley Ferguson, who noted earlier this week that some 200 cab drivers would be out of a job this weekend because they could not meet the new inspection standards at the RTD.
“Ask him to point out those 200 persons,” Sands said. “Can he prove this in black and white where 200 taxi drivers will be disenfranchised as a result of not meeting the standards….ask him to point out to you those 200 persons who will be affected.”