TCI News

Tomorrow, major crackdown on illegal jitneys begins with policy change, TCI Premier says it opens door to lucrative business

Photo by Deandrea Hamilton

The Premier says getting a bicycle is not a bad idea when it comes to getting around the island, but shared that the interest from people to become licensed for legal jitney operation or Community Cabs as the PDM Administration has dubbed them, is high and there should be sufficient public transportation once the industry is legalized.

“I assure you there will be persons who are prepared to enter that, and I think people need to understand that jitneys make way more than taxi drivers (sometimes) and so we expect entrants and that is why it is important to have that category.  Persons can make that investment before we crack down completely on those who are illegal in the industry.  It very, very lucrative.”   

The matter of private cars being used to fill the gaping hole created by a lack of public transportation for the resident population has been a burning one for the Hon Sharlene Robinson since before she was premier of the country.  Reports of rapes, sexual attacks, violent fights, robberies, unhealthy and unsafe conditions when using the jitneys have all given rise to many debates, elicited umpteen promises and brought on deep and real fear about catching the unregistered, albeit convenient modes of transport.

“On Wednesday, we hope to have the amendments to the Road safety ordinance that will look to legalise the transportation system for the provision of community cabs or what we call jitneys.  Not regularizing but legalizing that industry and making sure that legal entrants are given time to enter before strict enforcement goes on in that area.”

At this time, and in light of a recent attack where a jitney passenger was forced to jump from a moving vehicle in fear of her life, the Premier says it is risky business riding the illegal jitney.   

“…it is going to make it safer; it is going to make it legal, which means persons will have to register as drivers,”  the Premier said her talks with the Minister of Home Affairs, Delroy Williams has laid out some must haves for the Community Cabs to work.  “…where we jump into taxis for example in the United States a picture ID has to be displayed, but also we would have the license plate numbers, we are doing this all in sync with our CCTV program as well as what is to come in this year’s budget, is to recreate a better road safety license plate program and you will see software coming for that as well where you would be able to match license plate numbers to individuals.  That is all in the same pot.”

Tomorrow, when Cabinet meets, the matter is hoped to make the agenda and to be discussed as this new category of public service driver would be well on its way to being legally created.  It was explained that illegal jitney drivers now may not be qualified to drive the community cabs in future.    

“Once we are able to create a legal category, not regularize because some of the drivers will not qualify, some of the vehicles will not qualify so I want to make sure we understand that we are legalising the industry, the sector,” said the Premier last Thursday.

The Premier assured that it is not going to be rushed and the plan is going to be considerate of the role the current system does play.

“…which is why we are going to allow legal entrants before the enforcement happens. We are going to allow people to legally enter and provide that legal form (of transportation) before we crackdown on what we know to be a necessary form of transportation”

The announcement came in a Border Control press conference held jointly by the Premier and Deputy Premier, Sean Astwood last Thursday where the nation was given an update.

The country learned of the financial toll of illegal immigration on the islands for the past five years, the support being lent to the TCI from as far off as London and as nearby as The Bahamas and the multi-pronged initiative which includes cracking down on illegal construction and unearthing unathorised employment within the islands.  

Today, Minister of Home Affairs, Delroy Williams said the consultation process wrapped up after six months in December 2017.  The online Public Service Transportation Survey was electronically available to the general public and he said, the interest in the Community Cabs is high.

A warning was among the final points from Premier Robinson at the conclusion of Magnetic Media questions on the hot button issue.

“You’re taking a risk – especially with children and females in particular using these services.  You are taking a risk because it does not exist legally, which means we can’t trace drivers because we don’t know who they are.”

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