Brunei: JPD puts brakes on illegal taxi operators

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - Illegal taxi operators continue to thrive in Brunei Darussalam despite stringent regulations and regular crackdowns.

The enforcement unit of the Land Transport Department (JPD) has fined 13 foreign workers and seven locals for operating illegal taxis in 13 operations since February this year, Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud, Acting Director of JPD, told the media yesterday.

Five of the foreign workers have already been handed over to appropriate agencies like the Labour Department and Immigration and National Registration Department for abusing their quota and engaging in illegal taxi operations, he added.

"These illegal operators charge as low as B$1 which entices passengers - both locals and foreign workers - to use such taxis. They normally take passengers from bus stops or shopping complexes and even offer services to tourists arriving in cruise ships," the official said, adding, "we need to enhance the reliability of the public transport system in the country to curb this illegal activity."

Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal also said ever since summons cases were made compoundable offences effective February this year, the enforcement unit of JPD issued 24 compounds to 21 drivers under Section 56 of the Road Traffic Act (RTA), Chapter 68 for using private vehicles as public transport without licence or permit.

During the enforcement unit’s operation, some vehicles used as illegal taxis were found operating without permission from their registered owners and a number of vehicles were found to have not transferred ownership, he added.

"Following this, the JPD has summoned the original registered owner as recorded in the Bluecard, or Vehicle Registration Book, to give a statement. If it is found that the vehicle used for the illegal activities is not owned by the driver, action under Section 36 (2) Road Traffic Act Cap 68 will be taken for using the vehicle without the owner’s consent."

In this regard, the official urged those who have sold their vehicles to ensure that the vehicle is officially registered under the new owners’ name.

This is in line with Regulation 8 of the Road Traffic Regulations (Motor Vehicles and Trailers Registrations) 2013 (Chapter 68) which states that a registered owner shall notify the licensing officer (about the sale) in writing and submit the vehicle and the registration book to the new owner within 14 days, and in default, a fine not exceeding B$500 will be imposed for the first offence and a fine not exceeding B$1,000 for the second offence.

Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal revealed that following the monitoring, JPD has made a profiling of vehicles engaged in the illegal taxi operation. In Bandar Seri Begawan, owners of 95 such vehicles have been issued call notices.

To date, 44 vehicle owners have turned up to present evidence and were given stern warning not to engage in illegal taxi operations, the official said, warning that vehicle owners who fail to present themselves at JPD will be blacklisted and the department will not renew their road tax and driving licence.

In the Road Traffic Regulations, the fines for offences relating to illegal taxi operations have been fixed at B$50 for the first offence; B$150 (for second offence); B$300 (for third offence); and B$500 (for fourth offence).

The fifth offence will be handled by the concerned court and if found guilty, offenders may face six months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to B$10,000. In addition, the offender will also be issued nine Demerit Points under SiKAP (Driver Safety Practice System) after the compound is settled.

In this regard, the JPD urged the public to ensure that a vehicle is lent with proper permission and always monitor the activities of those who use it. For vehicles under the control of a company, the manager of the company or the employer should ensure that the employees use them in accordance with the licence or the permit granted.

Companies that offer self-driven rented vehicles (KSPS) must ensure that the leased vehicles are protected with proper insurance coverage.

For further clarifications or filing complaints, members of the public can contact JPD’s enforcement unit at 7292017, or Darussalam line at 123.