By Stefanos Evripidou
THE government has pledged to do all it can to tackle long-standing problems among urban taxi drivers, at the same time averting a taxi strike that would have marred the official opening of the Limassol Marina on Thursday night.
Limassol taxi drivers initially announced plans to carry out a warning strike between 5pm and 10pm on Thursday, overlapping with the official opening of the new seafront venture by President Nicos Anastasiades, also a Limassolian, at 8pm.
The town’s taxi drivers had planned to gather at the old port and head towards Franklin Roosevelt Avenue in protest at the failure of the government to respond to the chronic problems facing their profession.
After a meeting between the Director of the President’s Office Panayiotis Antoniou with the Federation of Urban Taxis and a representative of the small businesses’ union POVEK at the Presidential Palace, the action was called off.
The federation asked for assistance from the state to solve the long-standing problems of the sector.
Antoniou said the president was keen to promote solutions to the problems faced by licenced taxi drivers, and would follow efforts to do so personally.
He gave assurances that the government would proceed directly with addressing the problems raised, and intervening where it was within its powers to do so.
As a sign of intent, Antoniou announced government plans to immediately set up an inter-ministerial committee to examine the problems raised. It would also coordinate all relevant state services so as to deal effectively with the problem of cowboy cabbies working without licences. Finally, the government announced it would promote the establishment of taxi ranks in all districts.
Antoniou made no mention of the long-standing demands of taxi drivers throughout the island to increase bus fares. Drivers argue that the low bus fares have hurt their trade and have long called for an increase.