Taxi drivers operating at the Parika Stelling area have expressed frustration over what they consider ‘police harassment’ while carrying out their daily trade.
The drivers claimed that over the past month or so, they have not been allowed to go onto the Parika Stelling to ‘solicit passengers’, which is hampering their livelihood.
Kaieteur news understands that the police are preventing the taxi drivers from entering the stelling to assist passengers, claiming that they were soliciting.
But the taxi drivers are insisting that they are merely helping out the passengers many of whom are travelling with much luggage.
One taxi driver said he was arrested and almost charged after he went to the stelling area on the arrival of a boat to assist a passenger who had made arrangements with him to be picked up, in advance. Further, the taxi driver said now they are being raided off the stelling even when they are sheltering from the rain and sun.
“Sometimes we does just go at the stelling and stand under the shed instead of standing at our cars, and the police would chase us off the stelling,” he complained.
While the taxi drivers say that they understand the law about soliciting passengers, they are calling on the police to be understanding.
The drivers said that they are aware of some unruly taxi drivers who would crowd the travellers and grab at their bags, but noted that not all should be penalized for the actions of a few.
“It’s not a case where we run and crowd the passengers. Most of us work in the area and we have our own client base, most of whom are Brazilians and we try to be courteous by waiting for them at the stelling to assist with their bags. But even when we explain this to the police they still threaten to lock us up.”
Another taxi driver explained that in one instance, he went to collect some passengers and while he was assisting them with their luggage he was ordered into the station. Even after the passenger followed the driver into the station and explained to the police that they had made prior arrangements for the pickup, the driver was detained.
The drivers explained that this is now adding to their frustration since driving taxi is their only means of getting an income.
“I do this for a living and if every day I losing two or three of my clients because I can’t go collect them, that means I don’t get to take home money for my family…What will happen to other drivers who have to repay the bank?”
The drivers added that while doing their job, especially for Brazilian miners, they would rather wait in the stelling area so as to ensure the safety of their clients.
“We have hotel owners who call us and tell us who we have to pick up and all we know most of the time is the colour clothes our clients are wearing, so we have to go to the stelling when the boats arrive and signal to our client that we are who they are looking for,” one driver explained.
Nevertheless the drivers say they are willing to work with the police in addressing the situation but noted that some compromise has to be arrived at.
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