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Taxi drivers call for clarity on GPS rules

Taxi drivers are calling on Government to clarify regulations which currently make it mandatory for all cabs to be fitted with GPS.

The controversial law forcing all taxi drivers and dispatch companies to sign up to the network was introduced by the Progressive Labour Party in 2005, despite protests from taxi organisations.

The issue became a major debating point In the run-up to last December’s general election. In November, the then-ruling PLP effectively gave taxi drivers the green light to break the law, saying that owners of vehicles that were not GPS-compliant would not be punished.

The One Bermuda Alliance dismissed that pledge as electioneering and vowed that it would make the system optional rather than compulsory should it become the Government.

The Royal Gazette understands that, toward the end of last year, Transport Control Department inspection officers did adopt the directive to license taxis even if they did not have GPS installed.

But some drivers are claiming that that unofficial policy has now been dropped, and until the law is amended officially in the House of Assembly, drivers must still comply with the old law.

“It’s victimisation because some drivers have been given a licence even though they don’t have GPS, while others are now being penalised,” one driver, who asked not to be named, said.

“I was able to get my vehicle licensed a couple of months ago and I don’t have GPS, yet I know someone else who’s vehicle has just failed — because they didn’t have GPS. We should all be treated the same way and I think Government needs to restate its position on this and clarify what the law is.”

The driver said he understood that Government still intends to abolish the law making GPS mandatory, while Transport officials were content for the unofficial policy of “turning a blind eye” to continue, but that inspectors at TCD were insisting on carrying out the letter of the law — even though it may soon be abolished.

“It seems ridiculous that the inspectors are now making guys jump through all these GPS hoops when, in a few months time, the law’s going to be scrapped anyway,” the driver said.

“I understand that senior management at the Department think it’s okay for vehicles without GPS to still pass — unofficially at least — but it seems that the message hasn’t been passed on to the inspectors.”

Another driver accused Government of reneging on its election promise.

“Any car that goes into TCD will be required to have a working GPS assessed by the traffic officers, who do not even know how they work,” the driver said.

“Why were these cars passed for January and no enforcement was made then? We are very disappointed as the people of this country have been lied to again by the OBA Government. We would like to make this known to the public and have their opinion to this matter. “

Last night a Transport Ministry spokesman said Government still fully intended to amend the law, but that legislation had to be put before Parliament before mandatory GPS could be officially taken off the books.

The spokesman was unable to say when MPs will debate proposed changes to the law in the House of Assembly, but did say that Transport chiefs were planning to meet with taxi groups in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.

Seeking clarity: A taxi driver checks his GPS unit

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Published April 22, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm)

Taxi drivers call for clarity on GPS rules

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