Law not enforced against hustling taxi drivers

| 30/03/2011

(CNS): Local taxi drivers who are following the rules and regulations at the cruise terminals say they are losing out to drivers who are breaking the law and no one is enforcing the laws to stop them from bullying their way to more business. Joseph Woods, the Manager of Cruise Operations and Security for the Port Authority, told Cayman 27 that since he joined the authority some eight years ago, drivers have never complied with the law to only pick up passengers from the designated taxi queue by the North Terminal. Woods said the Port Authority doesn’t control the areas outside the port side and it is the RCIPS and the Public Transport Unit that should be enforcing the law. 

The law says that from 6am to 6pm taxis working between Fort Street and Boilers Road, the cruise ship area, are only supposed to pick up customers in the queue by North Terminal and not from anywhere else in the zone. However, the drivers that are following the rules say they lose out on business to taxis flagrantly breaking the rules and randomly picking up and hustling for passengers in the area without taking their turn in the queues. They claim drivers breaking the law are being rewarded with bigger takings than those toeing the line.

Taxi drivers said they have formed several associations over the years to address the issue but they have failed to curb the illegal soliciting.

Adrian Barnett of Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Traffic Management told the TV news station that officers do patrol the area and work alongside the Public Transport Unit to penalise people who break the law but try to handle the issue outside the courts.

However, the local drivers said they don’t see police or public transport officials enforcing the regulations and laws and now more drivers are hustling on the streets than using the taxi stand.

Go to Cayman 27 video

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

About the Author ()

Comments (46)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is simple. Get together with friends who have also been ripped off in the past and form a designated driver cooperative.This is both for nights out and the airport too.
    That way, the greed has killed the golden goose.
    We have all done this since last year and I encourage more people to do it, especially with social networking sites on the internet making it easier to organize.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians have themselves to blame.  Which one of you would be allowed to go to their country and take over the taxi business?  Not one.  Nobody would have that privilege.  Those individuals should NOT be allowed to be ‘licensed for reward’.  They hassle the tourists and they do not appreciate that.  The only way to stop the embarrassment,  is to revoke their licenses.

    The appearance of some of the drivers is far below standard, and that speaks for the individual. It cast a dark cloud on the Cayman Islands, and if some of them are or very own, who are behaving in like manner, deal with them likewise.  There should be no partiality, because they are supposed to be ambassadors.

  3. A Guy says:

    Personally I would rather the RCIPS tried to catch some real criminals like bank robbers and such, rather than the taxi drivers. Even though most of them are taking the p**s.


  4. Anonymous says:

    A friend of mine told me that she was at Royal Palms one morning and two taxi drivers, one chock full of tourists, were having a nasty verbal confrontation!!! After the taxi left, being driven by a non-caymanian, the other taxi driver, a Caymanian told her what the problem was.

    She said that some non-Caymanian taxi drivers are licensing their vans with the required seats, then after licensing put in a whole heap of extra seats. This is what the argument was because the Caymanian was confrinting the driver on this issue. What if they should have an accident and the insurance does not cover all the passengers!!!

    I can just imagine what was going on in the minds of the shocked tourist in the overpacked mini van!!!! This is not what tourists should be seeing as part of the ‘friendly Caymanian’ attitude and service!!!!

    The Traffic Dept needs to look into this problem!!! What a pity my friend did not take down licence plates and reported it!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is the same way up at public beach – these taxi drivers will literally steal tourists from other taxi drivers that have come right up on the beach and dragged tourists on to their bus.  It is embarrassing that we have a portion of our tourism product acting this way.  There should be a taxi que at the north end of the parking lot and the buses are just filled in an orderly fashion.  It is despicable they way these taxi drivers act and is not the impression we want cruise passengers walking away with – it certainly does not help encourage them to return for a stay over visit. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    So we can be sure that none of the $69 million, unaccounted by the Department of Tourism, was spent on sorting out this critical issue. Two kiosks, four employees perhaps,  and a few signs.

    • Anonymous says:

       "So we can be sure that none of the $69 million, unaccounted by the Department of Tourism, was spent on sorting out this critical issue. Two kiosks, four employees perhaps,  and a few signs."

      It’s Ministry of Tourism not Department of Tourism.  I wish people would try to understand the difference.  Two different budgets.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is truly sad, that so many taxi licenses were issued to so many foreigners.  That know nothing about Cayman and can barely even conjure up 2 words in English. You can imagine tourists asking these people about Cayman, and they don’t have a clue how to explain to them how Cayman was 30 years ago. Why issue so many licenses to foreigners when tourism is down?? I feel bad for my Caymanians who have to struggle so hard to make a dollar, because too many licenses were handed out to foreigners who barely speak English and don’t know a DAMN thing about the Island! You have some of them who came here as gardeners and cleaners, how can you leave those people the responsibility of selling your Island? Hustle Caymanians! Hustle! If this is how you have to survive to make a few dollars, all because the transportation board gave licenses to people who do NOT deserve it, by all means keep on hustling! That’s not a crime, the biggest crime are those drivers who should not be having a taxi license, depriving the real Caymanians! You know what the transportation board should really look into. All those tour companies that have these people that drop down here overnight, doing tours and can’t tell the tourists anything and the tourists can’t understand what they even say. Now that is a sad situation! By any means necessary!

  8. Marek says:

    With so many people here posting the same comments, clearly we have a problem that needs immediate attention. I call it the rule of ten. If ten different people all tell you the same thing and they don’t know each other… chances are… it is true.

    Yes… the terminal is a circus. It is dirty and I feel very badly for our island that this is the first thing our visitors are exposed to.

    Yes… cab drivers on this island are robbing people. No point in putting sugar on this. It is ROBBERY… I know because I have been robbed by cabbies who want to charge me $50 for a 4 mile ride that takes ten minutes.

    Yes… the tour operator hustlers and cab drivers have just in the last year become extremely aggressive and rude, and;

    Yes… tourists are becoming increasingly turned off by all of the above.

    Is there a solution … YES, there is.

    One… get some paint and repaint the public areas of the terminal. Get a pressure washer and hose everything down… it is extremely dirty.

    Place two Police Officers outside the terminal and start writing tickets as fast as they can. For the tour barkers, try ‘disturbing the public’ and for the taxis ‘illegal parking’.

    Do it … every day and do it aggressively. 

    The taxis will have no choice but to get in line… everybody wins.

    The tour barkers have no right to be there in the first place, you want to attack customers…

    Lease some space at the Port, get a Trade & Business License and hire some locals to sell your tour packages.

    Anyway see a problem with this?

    Paint, elbow grease and a couple of cops placed out front… and this gets fixed.

    CITA, Tourist Board… ANYBODY… "Hello"…  you get $40 million a year from the tourist arrivals… you might want to think about spending a couple of bucks to protect it.

    CNS: Take your camera, go to the terminal and take some photo’s, of the taxis, of the barkers and the condition of the terminal tourist area.

    Maybe you can shake the tree and get some action.


  9. Anonymous says:

    The PTU could sort this out in a nanosecond by threatening to withdraw taxi licences. But they scared off because they daren’t upset the offenders in case they are well connected. No wonder the RCIPS keeping well out of it.

    So, does anyone know what the PTU and its highly paid Director and many staff actually do all day?

  10. Libertarian says:

    ***** “The drivers that are following the rules say they lose out on business to taxis flagrantly breaking the rules and randomly picking up and hustling for passengers in the area without taking their turn in the queues. They claim drivers breaking the law are being rewarded with bigger takings than those toeing the line.” Sorry, but this is only one complaint from taxi drivers that are following the rules of the game. Nothing is being said about how government has interfered with the small taxi services! Government has subsidize Dart to drive his 40 seat buses in the way of the cruise passengers, and take them to the turtle farm, hence narrowing the money-intake of the market. One man complained to me the other day that since government started to subsidize these big drivers to rake in the tourists, they have suffered great lose. We had a long talk. He friends were desperate to employ people without work permits in order to make ends meet. He is a Caymanian. He drove a small bus and explained to me that he use to make 90 grand a year, and now he comes home making less, below 45 grand a year. So I feel there is more to the story than just blaming the group of taxi drivers breaking the law! Government has interefered too much with the market and has given favors to big shots. And that is not a myth… that is what I am hearing from taxi drivers! Why isn’t the news reporting about that? *****

    • Anonymous says:

      Just an honest question as I honestly don’t know the answer – is the taxi industry effectively a closed shop, ie you have to be Caymanian or status holder to be a driver ?

      • Libertarian says:

        ***** sorry, if I spoke about a Caymanians situation – it is one situation out of many! Just people need to realize that crime is not our only problem; rather, it is government’s intervention on the economy, doing favors / concessions for others, that is the major SET BACK to those who are playing on the level playing field to make ends meet. We all know that the economy is closely linked to the rise in crime in the Cayman Island. Why isn’t government minding their own business and doing something about it? ***** Libertarian

      • Cartel says:

        You must be kidding me.  I’m married to a Caymanian with a very Caymanian last name and even WE cannot get a taxi license, you gotta be a voter with BIG (Mac) connections.

        I WISH we had immigrant taxi drivers like New York…might actually have hardworking polite people instead of the rude greedy Caymanians we suffer now.

        I urge all visiting friends and family to take the public buses by the library and avoid the taxi lines at all costs.  We’ve started setting up local drivers for a set fee ahead of time for dinners and gala events.

        After 17 years here, I REFUSE to suffer the abuse and greed of this cartel for one day more.

        FIRE THE BUMS!!!!

        Gee, I wonder if ANYONE will support the drivers.  Where’s Elvis???



        • Anonymous says:

          So it is effectively a closed shop – only open to those who know !

          I find it very hard to feel any sympathy for the drivers who for years have got away with blatant overcharging and terrible service – and comments from a previous poster seeking sympathy for one of his friends lamenting now only pulling in $45k pa not $90k pa – haha, nice try but $90k for an ‘unskilled’ trade is a dream in most places in the world ! When you charge tourists CI$100 for 4 person from the pier to Public Beach however you can see how easy it is to pull down that figure !!

          Unfortunately, ‘most’ though not all of the taxi trade follow the same work ethic as most of the other trades connected with the cruise industry on island, ie grab as much cash as you can in the shortest possible time and sit back and do nothing else for the rest of the week and who gives a hoot about the service provided? That’s why you wait ages for a cab to take you home from the bar at night and pay through the nose for it – the drivers don’t really want to be doing it all!

          I guess this filters down from the top somewhere – that’s maybe why for the last 7/8 years we have up to 11 ships a day for 2 days a week and 2/3  for 5 days a week – why not spread the love and the wealth and the work over the full week or is that too much like hard work for all concerned. You cant whine about falling tourist numbers when you give a terrible experience like that !

          The first impression downtown is  awful – crowded, tatty and cheap. By all means try and change this for everyones benefit and regulation of the taxis and busses would be a great start. Don’t forget to have some aspirations too – a previous poster said that a person with a whistle and clipboard to control the cabs would give a job to ‘a suitably qualified Caymanian’ – surely there must be more ‘qualified’ positions to aim for than that !!




  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey CNN, How about just a general headline ‘Law Not Enforced’ that would cover everything?

  12. Anonymous says:

    What??? You mean to say there is a law on the books that is not being enforced???


  13. Anonymous says:

    For many years taxi and bus operators have tried to create some semblance of operating properly in the dock. But it can’t work because of votes. If you deny a person who is a cousin or an aunt then that family won’t vote for you . I have seen the new public transport board give tickets to public bus operators for not staying on their route but to no avail. gov’t MLA’s is where they go with there tickets and are squashed. How sad. 

    Its very simple to fix the docks, in fact it could be fixed in to 2 weeks. You have 2 dispatchers on each dock . You put one in a shelter from the rain and the sun like a kiosk by the dock with a sign that says tours and beaches . Then another sign that says taxis ( less then 8 seats). Every other vehicle that has over 8 seats is a bus (tour bus). That dispatcher sends people to the queue where another dispatcher puts them in a taxi or a bus.

    People outside of dock given one week to join queue or stop driving taxi or tour bur or public bus. Remember buses always cost less then taxis. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I know about one of these situations myself.  A certain taxi driver have so many complaints against her it is unbelievable.  She was warned and had her license taken away.  She complained to some MLA and they had to give it back. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    Every transport driver or salesperson within the confines of the port property should be behind a booth to promote their business. None should be allowed to roam the area confronting cruise ship passengers that have just disembarked. Civility goes a long way and leaves a good impression.

  15. Anonymous says:

     Why oh why can’t the authorities insist that taxis are metered – just like every other civilised place in the world. It’s ridiculous to have to bargain for a ride and then get abuse at your destination when the driver demands more (this happens all the time for the youngsters trying to get home after a night out). . Metered taxis would mean everyone has to pay the same or if you are a driver, earn the same.

    The main complaint from drivers is that they can’t make a living – a great indicator that there are just too many taxis. There is no innate law which says that all taxi drivers have to have enough business to earn a good living. An easy cull would be for the RCIP to prosecute those whose taxis are not fit for purpose and drivers who break the law (just those running red lights would cut sufficient for the rest to earn a living)



  16. Voice of Reason says:

    This is Africa – "TIA".

    A disorganised zoo. The cruise ship terminal had such hope but has turned into a tacky disgrace.

  17. Voice of Reason says:

     The taxi drivers certainly seem to be doing a good job of making themselves an incredibly unpopular and disliked group on the Island.

    As a fellow road user I am constantly appalled by the standard of their driving. It begs belief.

    What do all the taxi drivers have in common?

    A simple question with a simple answer.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the comments about their prices. A trip from 7MB to my house can cost anything from $16 to $80 depending on the what the driver thinks he can get away with. Why taxis still don’t have meters here is a mystery.
    The cruise dock seems to have a thousand taxi drivers but if you want one on a friday or saturday nght you can wait for hours.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If they are committing crimes, I would say the #1 crime they commit is theft. By robbing everyone with their ridiculous prices. It is disgusting what they charge!

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is so true! I had the misfortune of was walking down the waterfront today and four clearly marked taxis were parked up in between the Flagship building and the little Tortuga shop with the drivers aggressively hustling for passengers coming out of Royal Watler.

    The tour operators were also running around yelling about their "island tours" and "Hell and back tours" waving their signs frantically in people’s faces and warning that they were "about to leave" when there were probably only three poor sufferers sitting on the huge bus waiting for it to fill up before they would get going (after also being promised the tour was "just about to leave").

    The waterfront is truly a disgrace and CITA, the Taxi Drivers Association, the Public Transport Unit, the RCIPS or SOMEBODY really needs to step in and get some order. That is not what we like to claim our tourism product is.

    I’ve noticed the Public Transport Unit vehicle parked across from the Post Office most mornings recently, but buses still stop dangerously in the middle of the road all along that area so I’m not quite sure what the man sitting there is actually doing? We could definitely use a few more from that Unit and elsewhere walking around downtown enforcing these rules!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Cruise shippers would enjoy their visit to Cayman a lot more if they just stayed on board the ship. What is there to get off for? Aggressive touts hustling for money, over priced taxis to an overpriced restaurant or activity, a trip to Hell or the pirate caves (ie. the two most dismal, lazy, tourist rip-offs outside of North Korea), or wandering around like confused sheep in George Town looking at ashtrays and t–shirts.

  22. Frank says:

    Wow. Taxi and bus drivers complaining about the law being broken?? Give me a break…these drivers have absolutely no regard for anybody on the road except themselves. I have many time seen this blatanly run red lights and almost hit other motorists just to get 2 mins ahead. On top of thatthe RCIPS saying that they are working to curb these drivers is absolute nonsense. I have NEVER seen a bus or taxi pulled over in 10 years of driving. These drivers bully there way into traffic by just pulling out regardless of whether there is oncoming traffic..they stop suddenly in the middle of the road with no turn signals..never wear seatbelts…are constantly on the red lights and rip ppl off! Do yourselves a favour guys and quit complaining that you have the raw end of the deal! 95% of other road users dont care and have no sympathy for you whatsoever!!

    • Animaliberator says:

      Well said Frank, this is too true to be good. You must have read the book “Don’t Stop The Carnival’ written by Herman Wouk in the 50’s about living on a Caribbean island.

      It is now 2011 and guess what? Nothing has changed as far as taxi drivers are concerned. After living in the Caribbean for almost 27 years, I can surely attest to that!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Have you been to the port lately? It’s a zoo…

    As a tourist visiting these islands via cruise ship the first impression one gets as you have to navigate through the ‘wall’ of shouting and screaming tour/taxi operators located in the walk through at the Walter Terminal, all hustling and vying for business is not pleasant at all. This is not orderly, it is threatening and not at all what you would expect.

    It seems that the cruise ship terminal is not designed to handle the amount of people disembarking from ships andthere is no easy way to board pre-arranged tours easily or have a welcoming experience of being able to casually book a tour without being subjected to nothing short of a horse-trading experience. There is no shade, poor facilities and at every turn there is someone hustling you… do you want a coconut… do you want to go to Sting Ray City… Come on an island tour… Taxi to Seven Mile Beach… you want to buy jewelry… etc

    I am sure the whole experience of getting onto your tour and then back to ship is one of the most disorganized, unregulated and unpleasant experiences of the vacation. And spoils an otherwise highly anticipated visit to Grand Cayman.

    Something must be done to improve the arrivals for tourists to the Cayman Islands. Otherwise the next time it comes to booking a cruise it will be to somewhere else.


    • Anonymous says:

       All of the tour operators who can operate within the terminal should be charged a fee to run their business there and their business etiquette monitored. Maybe then they will act more professional. Its a free for all at the terminal and Port Authority needs to step up to the plate and ensure that the visitor experience comes first.  To further the problem they are enclosing the last shaded area that visitors could sit under! 


    • Anonymous says:

      This is exactly why we stoped going to St. Thomas. Cayman is next.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the good old Cayman blame game again – everyone turning a blind eye then blaming everyone else. LOL 😉 

    • Libertarian says:

      ***** I think the real issue is on government’s interference on the tourist market and how it has negatively effect small taxi drivers. It seems like the media is all about making the spin on those ones breaking the law to make an extra buck. But the issue is more deeper than those few. ***** Libertarian

  25. Anonymous says:

    From 6am-6pm there should be a taxi line with dispatcher with a whistle and a clipboard.  The taxis in line get the fares, while the taxis out of line get banned or fined by Taxi owners association.  It’s pretty easy really, and would create a necessary job for a qualified Caymanian.  

    • Anonymous says:

      This works at the airport. Why can’t it work at the port as well…….

  26. Anonymous says:

     How about all the taxi drivers stop ripping off the public with outrageous prices? Is it any wonder that people drink drive on this island when in their drunken state they have to decide between paying a fortune for a taxi fare or risk driving home? Maybe if the fares were much (much) more reasonable there would be no need to make a decision in the first place.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think this is the place for this debate but since you made such an ignorant comment I thought I would respond.

      Drunk driving because you don’t want to pay a high cab fee is ignorant and nonesense. People who don’t make arrangements before drinking are idiots and to put everyone on the road at risk is deplorable.

      But yes, the cabbies do charge to much.

      • Anonymous says:

         I think you need to look up the definition of the word ignorant, your use of it here is completely wrong. I agree with the first post anything we can do to reduce DUI’s can only be a good thing – and some people just aren’t willing to cough up $25 to travel 2km. 

        • Anonymous says:

          You clown. Your comment is ignorant (proper use of the word once again).

          And if a person is only going 2k then they should walk! How do you figure that drinking and driving is a reasonable alternative? I hope you never end knowing what it is like to lose some to d&d as you might just change your tune. 25 bucks is a small price to pay.

          • Anonymous says:

             You fool, look up the definition of ignorant, then look at the context it was used, then please apologise to the poster to the original poster. May I suggest that you also enrol yourself back in school as you clearly have no idea. 

            • Anonymous says:

              Haha, respond to your own comment as if you are another poster agreeing with your argument! The term was used correctly.

      • Anonymous says:

         I think you need to look up the definition of the word ignorant, your use of it here is completely wrong. I agree with the first post anything we can do to reduce DUI’s can only be a good thing – and some people just aren’t willing to cough up $25 to travel 2km. 

  27. Is it April 1st Yet? says:

    Seriously, you’d think we were in Somalia the way these folk hustle. It gives a really nasty first impression to our visitors.
    If those goons started hustling me, I’d get right back on the ship.
    We are behaving like a bunch of animals in a mad zoo, not the civilized destination that we are supposed to be.

    If anyone is in any doubt as to what is going on here, I would recommend that you pop down to the George Town landing areas between Tuesday and Thursday and you will see for yourself exactly what this article is saying.

    It is frightening.