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Taxi bid system heats things up

Date Posted: 2004-10-14

Taxi companies in Okinawa are frustrated with a new bidding system introduced by the military for on-base taxi rights.

The taxi business is extremely competitive, and prices for the new contracts with Army Air Force Exchange System have soared. Before the bid system went into effect, taxis posted guarantee bonds of ¥3,000 per taxi. Since the bidding system was introduced, that number has soared to more than ¥80,000.

The most expensive guarantees now required are Camp Hansen ¥80,200, Camp Foster ¥36,800, Futenma Marine Corps Air Station ¥25,700, Camp Courtney ¥16,600, and Kadena Air Base ¥15,500.

“We still want to get jobs from the base, because there’s not much off-base business anymore,” said one taxi company owner. “I need to pay my workers, so even with the bid system I have to go on and try to get jobs from base. Of course, I’d like to see the guarantee money go down.”
Taxi companies are fighting each other to get the jobs on-base. It’s a serious problem, said one owner, because they don’t want new companies involved. The military, however, took the fairness route and opened the process to outsiders.

Off-base taxi owners say they don’t think the military is trying to make trouble, but “they don’t think about the taxi companies’ hard life.”

One taxi company owner went farther, noting newspaper headlines call for Americans to leave Okinawa. “We need jobs, please give them to us. Don’t go away.” He said he’s afraid one day the Americans will leave, and life will become worse for him and his employees.

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