The north is looking to mirror the Republic’s planned clampdown on Turkish Cypriot taxi drivers, with ‘parliament speaker’ Zorlu Tore promising to take the “necessary initiatives against unregistered taxi drivers.”

Tore was speaking at a meeting with Famagusta taxi drivers’ association chairman Muhammed Biberoglu and used language markedly similar to that of the Republic’s Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades in his initial announcement of the Republic’s planned clampdown.

“Unregistered taxi driving throughout the country causes losses of income for both registered taxi drivers and the state. The government is in possession of the relevant information, and the issue should be handled within the legal framework,” he said.

He also noted that unregistered taxi drivers are operated by third country nationals living in the north, saying “complaints [of unregistered taxi drivers] have increased with the increase in our foreign population.

“Citizens of third world countries also operate illegal taxis,” he said, adding that he will raise the issue with the ‘government’.

Tore’s meeting with Biberoglu comes after ‘government’ sources in the north told the Cyprus Mail “whatever restrictions are made to Turkish Cypriot registered taxis or buses, any public transportation vehicle, the same restrictions will be applied to the Greek Cypriot registered [vehicles in the north].”

Reacting to the clampdown, the north’s ‘transport ministry’ said “we will take the necessary measures within the principles of reciprocity, according to the steps to be taken by the Greek Cypriot administration.”

Biberoglu had said in January that the Republic’s planned clampdown was “officially racism”.

“Greek Cypriot taxi drivers do not want passengers to be transported from North Cyprus to South Cyprus in taxis. They want to do this themselves because they want to earn money themselves,” he said.

The Republic plans to effectively reduce the burden of proof to fine unlicensed taxi drivers, with Alexis Vafeades explaining to the Cyprus Mail that should the new legislation pass, fines can be levied based off an “evidence-based” system.

He had said, “the job of a taxi driver is a clearly defined profession. They have specific licences, and there are limits on who has the right to be a taxi driver in the Republic of Cyprus.”

“For this reason, there are standards of quality among taxi drivers in the Republic of Cyprus, and in bringing in this law to tighten restrictions on those illegally offering services, we as the government are working to ensure those standards of quality,” he said.

Turkish Cypriot drivers, given that their vehicles and licences are registered in the north and not in the Republic, are classed by the Republic as “unlicensed” taxi drivers. At the same time, Greek Cypriot taxi drivers would be classed as “unlicensed” in the north as their vehicles and licences are registered in the Republic.