The illegal transport issues reached a head yesterday as over 150 taxi divers and their cars blocked off many parts of Ibiza Town in protest about the increased level of pirate taxis on the island and the lack of control from the island government. The taxi drivers met up outside the Consell (government building) sounding their horns until President Vicent Torres came down for a face to face talk where he heard 1st hand about their concerns.
Pirate taxi transport has steadily grown from an underground business to blatant harassment especially at Ibiza airport where flight arrivals are met by men touting their services even before the clients have stepped foot outside the terminal building. I witnessed this myself last week as I was accosted by over 10 pirates with an air of menace immediately after stepping through the electric doors in arrivals.
This situation has been allowed to gain momentum without control and now the taxi drivers have had enough but the simple fact is that there aren’t enough legal taxis to cope with the demand especially during the main peak weeks so it’s easy money for the ‘pirates’ with long taxi queues awaiting passengers at the airport. You can’t blame tourists for taking the easy option and paying a little more rather than wait in the taxi queue for an hour. There is also serious questions over the service from some legal taxi drivers which is less than exemplary, cherry picking who they take and making up their own rules along the way and being a speeding nuisance on the roads.
The lethargy in dealing with pirate taxis is also mirrored in the same way that the street sellers are dealt with. These men wander around harassing tourists and forcing their goods on them, it’s out of control yet the local councils don’t seem too concerned so while the Balearic government is preparing to tax tourists, our greatest commodity, they seem unwilling to tackle the day to day problems that the island faces.
The usual excuses for this lethargy are that the law doesn’t allow local authorities to be effective, the people arrested have no money to pay the fines and they know how to ‘play the system’. Yet local governments seem to be able to change the law in respect of certain things such as closing times where legal businesses are affected so why can’t they tackle blatant illegal businesses that don’t pay a penny in tax? Illegal taxi’s, ticket sellers, street hawkers and prostitutes are operating on the island because they are allowed to do so and we are diminishing our core product because it’s getting out of control.
Fellow blogger Danny Kay in his excellent recent piece said “Why is it that in Dublin or London there are no Looky Looky men, illegal PRs, prostitutes or drug dealers accosting tourists in Temple Bar or Trafalgar Square? Because they are not allowed. It is illegal for them to be there and they would be locked up if they tried it” A simple philosophy but something that may be the only way forward for the white isle.
In the changing political climate now would be a good time for the coalition island president Vicent Torres, Vice President Viviana de Sans and their team to face up to a few home truths, apply a zero tolerance policy and clean up our island once and for all or the wrong type of headlines will only get worse. A few more taxis on the road might be a good idea too.