This week, following several meetings with representatives from Waterford’s taxi industry, Fianna Fail’s Cllr Eamon Quinlan has condemned what he calls an unjust system that not only hinders the ability of honest drivers to earn a living but furthers discriminates against local drivers due to the fact they are from Waterford.

“This situation stems from the south east vehicle licensing centre being moved to Kilkenny even though Waterford has the highest critical mass of vehicles. Their outdated way of testing means Waterford’s drivers must drive back and forth over several days as the qualifying test and meter calibration will not be performed on the one day.” said Cllr Quinlan.

“They are in effect small business owners and this kind of burden would not be viewed as acceptable in any other sector. This means their industry incurs additional unnecessary costs and removes them from the streets of Waterford for prolonged periods of time. Items then needed to pass these tests are bought outside Waterford. This is another clear example of harvesting Waterford for other counties benefit that has become a hallmark of the current government’s approach to the south east.

“Taxi drivers were left outraged when the current minister passed legislation retroactively nationalising all taxi plates, meaning these must be returned to the department and cannot be sold on after use. They were promised that these were good assets that could be used as pensions when sold on as they retired. These are now left near worthless to ordinary taxi drivers and i envisage that this attack on people’s pensions and personal belongings will be challenged in court. In fact, many drivers bought their plates with redundancy payments in recent years. This should be called theft in its simplest terms. Drivers are paying taxes and contributing to a society that allows all but especially older people to remain mobile and enjoy a standard of living not characterised by loneliness’ said Quinlan.

“It is felt that the taxi industry is a soft target as it would not have the same institutional representation common in other aspects of society. Safety fears also epitomise the life of local drivers as next to the emergency services, taxi drivers encounter large numbers of people intoxicated from various substances mostly in a one to one, night time basis that leaves them vulnerable to assault.

“The regulator seems oblivious to this, case and point is the requirement of taxi drivers to keep a ‘customers rights’ charter made from corrugate within reach of the customer at all times. I have seen firsthand how devastating this can be when used in a slashing manner. This information could easily be displayed as a sticker on the dash but clearly no thought for driver safety entered into the situation.

“I am calling on the minister to reverse their decision on plates and to work with the regulator to create a safe work environment for all, both customer and driver’ said Quinlan. It is envisaged that without action to resolve these outstanding issues both the legal path and industrial action remain as options to the industry to seek redress.”