4 September 2015, Friday, 2:25

Minsk taxi drivers protest against new regulations

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The ‘Minsk Taxi’ trade union has spoken against the new regulations in passenger transportation.

‘Ezhednevnik’ learnt about that from the trade union’s chairman Dzianis Novikau.

On 10 July a meeting of the working group took place of the employees of the Belarusian research center for transport ‘Transtekhnika’ and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, at which the suggested changes and additions to the “Law on passenger transportation by taxi” were discussed.

Before the meeting the trade union got worried, for they had not even been invited to the discussion of the draft law, which directly affects them. In Dzianis Novikau’s opinion, this happened, because at the previous meeting the activist taxi drivers had absolutely not agreed with the suggested changes in the transportation regulations.

“Having listened to us one, the representatives of the state institutions simply did not invite us to the next meeting. We promptly reacted, having appealed to the president’s administration, the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Transport and Communications and stated: trade union’s participation in discussing and adopting these decisions is necessary in order to rule out the lobbying for certain players”, - Dzianis Novikau stated.

According to him, the trade union is greatly worried over several significant changes that the draft law stipulates.

The document suggests to abandon the licensing practice in the area of taxi services, introducing an access card instead, which will be issued for each particular vehicle. However, it has still not been established, which institution will provide those and in how.

Quite painful for most taxi drivers is also the restriction on the exploitation time of an automobile. Last year it was supposed to be established at the level of 8 years since the production date. In the process of discussion the bar was raised up to 10 years, but taxi drivers still consider the requirement too tough. The reason is the lack of money for purchasing a new car. By experts’ estimations, at current tariffs on taxi services the breakeven point will only come in 12-15 years.

According to the suggested changes, the carrier must conclude an agreement with a taxi dispatcher on the provision of services. It will be no longer possible to operate without such a contract. A separate contract is required for the dispatchers as well – with the local executive body.

All the orders get registered strictly. At the same time the carrier will have to report to the dispatcher not only of an order, but also the time and place the passenger got off. It is assumed that the information will be stored for half a year.

The law obliges taxi dispatcher services to follow that the rules are observed. In case the carrier violated the legislation requirements, the contract may be cancelled unilaterally. The same goes for the dispatcher station.

The draft law even introduces a ban on the use of the taxi cab for “personal needs, not related to passenger transportation activities”. It is assumed that, having finished the shift, the carrier would leave the car and walk home.

“The suggested regulations are not substantial and do not lead towards positive changes in the passengers transportation market, - Novikau comments on the draft law. – They all hold the taxi service away from European standards, instead taking it back into Soviet times, when there were more papers and reports. These changes even violate the president’s directive on the entrepreneurship development and support”.

The obligation to report after every single order carried out, in Novikau’s opinion, will put pointless workload on dispatchers and will be hardly welcomed by clients, whose movements will be closely tracked. “No one understands, why it is being done, – the trade union leader is surprised. – the address, where the client is going, is their personal business. I do not even mention that the necessity to call every time will make the service time longer – the load on the line will be crazy”.

Novikau also speaks negatively of the ban on using your own car for your own purposes: “I assume, some common parking space will be created for storing cars, where the taxi driver will be forced to leave his own property, which is has no right to use. This is nonsense!”

Several carriers expressed doubts of the profitability of working under the new conditions, not ruling out that it would be less problematic and more profitable to operate illegally. In conversations with media taxi drivers still complain about the lack of orders and monthly income of 300-400 dollars after all the required fees have been paid.

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