Tuesday 20 February 2018

'They're a cancer that's spreading' - Government has failed to stamp out bogus drivers, claims taxi group

A bogus cab pulled over by Gardaí at the weekend Credit: An Garda Síochána
A bogus cab pulled over by Gardaí at the weekend Credit: An Garda Síochána

Bogus drivers are rampant in the Irish taxi industry because the Government has “washed their hands” of the issue, claims transport chief.

The head of one of Ireland’s largest transport groups says until now only “lip service” has been paid to concerns about passenger safety when it comes to who is behind the wheel of a taxi.

“The app you look at that gives you a driver’s name, their address, and a photograph… makes it terrible easy for copycat instances to occur,” said Tony Roe, chairperson of the National Transport Assembly - which acts as a forum for taxi drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, and others involved in the transport sector.

Read More: Fake taxi man caught in Dublin with lone female passenger

“You can run it through a computer, or off your phone, and do yourself up some ready made identification.”

Mr Roe’s allegation follows the arrest of a fake taxi driver in Dublin at the weekend.

The man, using a fake taxi sign and door stickers, was taking a female passenger home when he was pulled over by officers.

Gardaí discovered that the bogus taxi had no tax or valid NCT and that the driver had no public service vehicle licence or insurance, and was, in fact, banned from driving by the courts.

Read More: Taxi driver 'sickened' after he's targeted in five attacks by vandals

The meter was running with a paying female passenger inside the ‘cab’ who was totally unaware that the taxi and its driver were fake.

The incident has prompted calls for tighter regulation of the taxi industry, and is only the latest incident, according to Mr Roe, involving fraudulent drivers.

“We had a meeting with [Transport] Minister Paschal Donohoe six weeks ago and, ironically, we brought up this issue [of fake drivers] at the meeting.

“We showed him various confirmations of stories like this, and asked him to introduce legislation for ensure the safety of the public, as well as taxi workers.

“What’s been happening with fraudulent and bogus drivers... [The Government]pays lip service to it with that app and then they walk away… and the cancer spreads.”

Read More: Taxi driver slashed with knife and hit with hammer by three thugs

Mr Roe said that many taxi drivers wanted tighter controls to be introduced, and that “serious deterrents” were needed to discourage bogus drivers.

“We’re looking for increased penalties for those impersonating taxi drivers – with a minimum prison sentence of at least 12 months and a fine upwards of €10,000.”

He added: “For us, it’s about safety aspect. I’ve ten grandchildren and some of them are at that age now where they’re going out.

“If they’re getting a taxi, and I can’t get one of my friends to pick them up, I tell them to interview the driver to make sure he is legit.

“That’s not something you should have to do in this day and age.”

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