No licence, no ride ... bike taxi operators propose change to Road Law
Bike taxi operators in Westmoreland want the Government to impose restrictions on the purchase of motorcycles.
However, unlike the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), which has called for the imposition of a special tax on the importation of bikes to make it harder for persons to purchase them, some operators think it is best if the State makes it mandatory for people to have a rider's licence before they can purchase motorcycles.
According to them, a levy is only a recipe for disaster, particularly in Westmoreland, where communities and small business are heavily dependent on bike taxis.
"Weh bike go, car and bus man nah go, because dem a stop a the main road and let off the people them. So a bike man duty fi carry the people them go home," said one bike operator, who gave his name as 'Bobo'.
"So when dem want do this, a pure violence and problem pon the people dem. You see the staff people weh work at all the hotels them a night, you see when the staff bus let them off yah, a bike taxi have to carry them go home. Taxi and bus man nah run 12 o'clock, one o'clock a night. So if dem come in with the tax and make bike harder fi get, then the people them affi go walk and might get hold up and rob," he added.
The NRSC recently recommended an increase in the levy to be charged on the importation of bikes as part of a move to reduce road deaths.
Westmoreland alone currently accounts for the highest number of road fatalities in Jamaica, so far in 2017, with deaths amounting to more than 21 per cent of the overall figure.
More than 67 motorcyclists have died on the island so far in 2017, compared to 59 and 72 in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
The bike taxi operators said that proper management of the licensing system would make the roads safer.
"Make a man go ride for his rider's licence, and if him nuh have it, then him can't buy a bike because a man only need a learner's to ride bike and some don't even have that, which is why nuff a them a crash because they don't know anything about bike," said 'Bigga', another taxi operator.
"So if a man don't have a licence him can't buy a bike and the Government fi pass a law say if him don't have a licence and you as a business owner sell him, then you fi get charge," he added.