By Andria Kades
Nicosia taxi drivers association have called off a planned strike for Wednesday following a meeting with Transport Minister Marios Demetriades who agreed to look into their demands.
“We had a meeting with the minister who showed good will to solve our problems. He has promised us things many times but this time we have a timeline, and an intervention from the Presidential Palace with a promise to help resolve our problems,” Panayiotis Kililis, a spokesman of the Nicosia taxi association said.
The transport ministry said they would seek the advice of the attorney general over the main issue which involves the exclusive right of certain drivers on Kostaki Pandelides and Constantinou Paleologou streets to park.
This is because when they first obtained their licences, they each had certain spots that were exclusively theirs for parking. The association however is requesting, according to administrative officer from the ministry Alexia Christofi, to liberalise the market and make the spots available for everyone on a competitive basis.
“We have asked for the advice from the attorney general’s office if this exclusive right is revoked and taxi ranks are created, who will they be compensated from?”
The status quo allows only 26 drivers to do their job properly while the rest have nowhere else to park without being fined, according to Kililis.
Although the ministry expects a response in about three of four months, the association issued its own deadline of September 20.
According to Christofi, the Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis has said it is best to look into the matter once the works at Solomos square are completed.
In regards to the clampdown of illegal taxis, Kililis estimates they comprise about 50 per cent of the market, a figure Christofi says is too high.
“We know it exists but these are offences that need to be caught red-handed. If an illegal taxi driver goes to the airport and picks up two people, without their statement, police cannot do anything because they have no proof.
“He could say they’re relatives and then what? The only way to catch them is if they’re caught receiving the money,” which is why it is rather difficult to do.
Christofi stressed the ministry does not want to interfere with their right to strike and the action they took was not due to the impending threat of one but something that arose following Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is not our aim to inconvenience people and cause problems by blocking the roads and although none of us are convinced, because we’ve heard it all before and had a presidential intervention before – it went no further than the intervention – we are conceding as a sign of good will and to prove that it is not our aim to cause problems,” Kililis said.