According to statistics from the police traffic headquarters, 25 persons died in Westmoreland last year, as a result of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Ten of those killed were bikers.
And since the start the year, motorcyclists accounted for four of the five persons killed in vehicular accidents on the Westmoreland roads.
Head of the Police Traffic Department in Westmoreland, Inspector Amos Thompson, earlier this week issued a strong warning to persons operating motorcycles as taxis in the parish, urging them to desist the unlawful practice.
He also urged pillion riders to “avoid the bikes”.
“A word of warning to members of the public that in the event of an accident you might be killed, seriously injured, and the worse part is that you will not be covered by insurance.
“These motorcycles are not even bearing registration plates so you know that they are not licensed, insured or passed by a certified officer and the pillion passengers who are also not wearing protective helmets will be prosecuted for these offences and taken before the court,” Thompson warned.
He noted that a number of these motorcycles were recently purchased and the owners were not even in possession of a provisional driver’s licence.
“They just go out and purchase these motorcycles and proceed to operate them as taxis. Members of the public who support them must be aware of this.”
But, Convener of the National Road Safety Council, Dr Lucien Jones, who argued that the motorbike taxis provide a service which is a deeply rooted-social custom for commuters, especially in the hilly areas of the parish, called on the parliamentary representatives in Westmoreland to provide an alternative transportation system.
“Based of what we have been told by the police, it is a deeply ingrained cultural problem and they (motorbike taxis) provide a service for people. What they would need is to put in place an alternative transport system because they (commuters) coming out of the hills and sometimes they don’t have transportation,” Jones added.
He was, however, quick to point out that the operation of the two-wheeled taxis, which at times transport up to six commuters at a time, pose a safety threat. (Observer)