Transport operators say extortion on the rise

June 01, 2016
ACP Devon Watkis, head of the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch.

Public transportation operators in the Corporate Area are bemoaning the re-emergence of extortionists who they say are causing them to lose millions of dollars daily.

President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egeton Newman, estimated that more than $3 million is lost daily by taxis and Coaster buses to extortionists.

A taxi driver who operates from Half-Way Tree to Papine, St Andrew, said over the past six months, extortionists have restarted targeting taxis and Coaster buses. The driver who asked not to be named, said the situation had worsened compared to earlier years before a crackdown by the police.

"Now a two and three different gang inna the same area, so three man a come to me some day and everybody want money," he explained.

The cabbie said he is forced to hand over between $1,500 and $3,000 daily to armed extortionists.

A conductor who works on a bus that operates between Half-Way Tree and Constant Spring in St Andrew, admitted to not reporting the crime to the police.

"When you go police them a go tell you fi bring evidence and me nah take no picture a none a dem man deh, next thing them go kill me," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Devon Watkis, head of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime division, is encouraging public transport operators to abandon their fears and report extortionists.

"There are a few reports but it doesn't reflect the true number so we need persons to help the police. It is not enough to complain, we need to work together to catch them," he said.

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