Monday 27 March 2017

'Prime Time' taxi driver in row over licences

Aodhan O'Faolain

A TAXI driver featured in a RTE's 'Prime Time Investigates' programme has brought a legal challenge against the National Transport Authority's decision to suspend his PSV licences.

For several years, Mr Oluwaseyi Okerayi operated a business by hiring out both taxi plates and cars to others.

Last May the National Transport Authority suspended "with immediate effect" the 25 public service licences he held following the broadcast 'Prime Time' programme which alleged he rented out cars that were unroadworthy to individuals who did not have licences.

In his High Court proceedings Mr Okerayi, of Fitzherbert Court, Slane Road, Navan, Co Meath, denies any wrongdoing that was alleged in the programme.

He says the decision to suspend the licences was "a kneejerk response to a sensationalist and inaccurate TV programme carried out without proper investigation".

Tests

He also argues there is no legal basis to continue the suspension because investigations and tests carried out by both the gardai and the National Transport Authority (NTA) to date show that nearly all his vehicles are roadworthy.

Permission to bring the proceedings, aimed at overturning the suspension, was granted at the High Court by Mr Justice Barry White on an ex-parte (one side only) basis. The judge made the matter returnable before the High Court to a date next month.

Moving the application, barristers Micheal O'Higgins and Keith Spencer said it was their client's claim that his licences were suspended on May 18 last before any of his vehicles were inspected.

As a result of the suspension, Mr Okerayi is now left without a livelihood.

In an affidavit to the court Mr Okerayi, a married father of two children who moved to Ireland from Nigeria in 2002, said that he was the subject of a 'Prime Time' programme broadcast on May 16 last.

He said the programme alleged he rented out cars that were unroadworthy to individuals who did not have licences. He was "shocked when he saw the contents of the programme" as the broadcast "had distorted the true version of events".

He said he carried out the legitimate and perfectly lawful business of renting out taxi plates and vehicles and always checked out and took photocopies of drivers' documentation before renting out a taxi. He always repaired any defects in the cars once they were brought to his attention.

Irish Independent

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