Taxi drivers warned against illegal drugs

Members of LTA’s Taxi Committee explain rule changes to taxi owners and drivers this morning.

Members of LTA’s Taxi Committee explain rule changes to taxi owners and drivers this morning.

Alan Ah Mu

APIA: MONDAY 9 SEPTEMB ER 2013: Taxi drivers were warned against illegal drugs by Land Transport Authority (LTA) today.

“Like ice, marijuana,” said Manager Road Use Management, Tauiliili Leo Bartley.

Many drivers come to his office to register and he can see they were high, Tauiliili said.

He issued the warning as a member of LTA’s Taxi Committee who held a consultation with drivers and taxi owners this morning.

The committee announced a host of changes to take effect next year as well as issue reminders of the rules against driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, eating and smoking cigarettes.

The welfare and improved service to tourists are priorities behind the changes.

A few drivers complained against the blanket ban on tinted windows saying not all tints are the same with some very transparent – and especially when vehicles arrive in the country already sporting them.

Incidents have occurred in the past where darkened windows posed a threat to female passengers and allowed the transportation of drugs, said Tauiliili.

The rule remains but it will be one of the matters noted for review by the committee, Chairman Mataafa Sepelini Poufa said.

DVDs remain banned in taxis.

While they were used properly when first introduced pornography came to be screened on them – a matter which led to court action last year, said Tauiliili.

One change that takes immediate effect: vehicles smaller than 1500cc – or 1.5ltr – in engine size may no longer be registered as a taxi.

Getz, Echo, Terio and RAV 4 (short body) were amongst the sorts of vehicles listed as examples in a document handed out in the consultation.

It follows criticism of taxis that are too small for heavier passengers and struggle up steep roads like Cross Island Road in Upolu Island.

By March 1 next year all taxis must belong to a taxi stand as the Taxi Committee seeks to identify more easily drivers who overcharge, take property forgotten in their vehicles and other behaviour passengers complain of.

This requires of taxi stands to undertake and provide:

  • Registration at LTA (for free)
  • Name of owner of taxi stand
  • Name of stand
  • Number of taxis (must be at least five)
  • Names of all its drivers
  • Number plates of taxis in the stand
  • Their location
  • Licence numbers of its drivers
  • Name of stand printed on each taxi on the door of the driver’s side, front passenger door and top part of the windscreen

Registration requires of taxi stands:

  • ID Cards of drivers
  • Number of its landline telephone (required because mobile numbers tend to change)
  • Business Licence
  • Number of uniforms – elei shirts and pocket ie lavalava – used by drivers weekly

Left Hand Drive vehicles may still operate as taxis but become invalid once they are sold.

Taxi numbers in Upolu Island is limited to 1 500 with 500 allowed for Savai’i Island.

“There are nowhere near 1 500 (taxis) so there is still plenty of opportunities,” Chairman of the Taxi Committee, Mataafa Sepelini Poufa, said.

In response to a complaint that a fare increase was due because fuel prices rise every month, Mataafa said between 2008 and 2012 the annual increase was not great – 6 percent.

“So a (fare) rise cannot be based on that,” he said.

More valid for that was the cost of living and the price of parts, he said.

Fare increases are under review and will take effect next year.

The last increases were in 2008.

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