“It assigns penalties in terms of what the (taxi) service would do in accordance with the code and what we expect the service to do- suspension, for example, we will have public blacklisting of service providers who consistently breach the code. We will have public blacklisting of drivers who consistently breach the code,” said Tourism Minister, Irfan Ali.
Provisions of the code include being discourteous, playing loud and indecent music, poorly clad and generally offering a poor service. Short pants, sleeveless shirts, vests and rubber-slippers would be outlawed.
Discrimination against passengers because of their gender, race, disability, marital status, sexuality or pregnancy would not be tolerated, according to the code. One of the requirements is for the code to be laminated and placed on the back of the front seat for passengers to read it to understand, rights, duties and recourse.
Ali said a 24-hour Hotline would be set up to not only guide visitors about hotels, dining and entertainment but also take complaints from taxi passengers.
Before being employed by taxi services, drivers would have to receive police clearances and clearances from the services with which he had been previously attached. If they breach the code seriously or repeatedly, they can be fired and their names circulated to other services. The code does not cover private-hire cars and taxis that are not part of a service.
GTA officials said they have identified five taxi drivers on the “bad list”
Ali said the code would be implemented in another three months within which the public would be sensitized about what the code entails.
Cars under the umbrella of taxi services would have to bear an approved colour and display a centralized booking service names. “We are looking to have all the authorised services colour-coded so that we can have a tracking mechanism for the various services,” he said.
Taxi services would be responsible for training and education of drivers, initially with support from the Ministry of Tourism to taxi-service providers, managers and a pool of drivers as part of a train-the-trainers programme.
Government wants to craft a similar code for minibuses but, according to Ali, one of the difficulties is that the bus industry is represented by several organisations.
The Guyana Taxi Association has 50 members from Georgetown, Berbice, Linden and the West Coast Demerara. There are 9,000 cars that are registered in the ‘H’ series.