Taxi operators facing hell
President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Service, Egerton Newman, says that he has been receiving at least two reports weekly from taxi companies, and even Uber drivers, that they are being robbed by men posing as passengers heading to uptown communities in St Andrew.
“It is common assault in the sector now. There are young boys from high community backgrounds who go around and rob, especially the chartered taxi companies. They [drivers] usually receive calls from persons in Manor Park, Liguanea, Stony Hill, and those places where they think it’s safe. One driver told me that he received a charter to go to Cherry Gardens and the guy asked for a turn off and robbed the driver. The only good thing is that we are pushing the cashless system, so he did not have any cash on him, but he was relieved of his phone,” Newman said.
THE STAR also spoke with a taxi man who said he is counting his blessings after he was mugged of his cellular phone and $9,000 by two men posing as potential passengers in Stony Hill..
“When mi reach the location, a youth walk in, and the next ting mi feel is a gun to mi head. A next youth open the other door and mi feel a next gun to mi side and dem take the money whe mi work fi di day and mi phone. The good thing is mi did just collect some partner money, but mi did put it in the trunk,” the elderly man said.
He said that he did not report the matter to the police out of fear and remains severely traumatised. Newman said that while some operators live to share their horrific ordeals, others are not so lucky.
“The latest incident was a taxi man, who plied the Three Mile to Half-Way Tree route, who was killed over the weekend. Since the start of the year, 19 taxi operators have been injured or shot and killed by gunmen. We are under siege,” Newman added.
According to police reports, the body of Saiga Beepot, 31, was discovered last Saturday about 6:05 p.m. in a gully on Gem Road in Kingston 13. Residents reportedly stumbled upon the body and summoned the police. Beepot’s hands were bound behind his back and his eyes and neck were covered with a white cloth. The body had what appeared to be gunshot wounds.
Newman implored drivers to be as vigilant and careful as possible.
“After six 0’clock it’s best to just pick up your regular customers and if you have a passenger in the vehicle already who ask you for a turn off to pick up somebody, don’t do it. If someone ask for a pick up in a area that you don’t know, please leave it alone. Almost every taxi man is in a WhatsApp group so advise the group where you are going,” he said.