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Taxi scandal expands as drivers speak out

Date Posted: 2004-12-16

Sweetheart deals between select taxi drivers and gangsters now appear to be even more widespread.

Following reports in last week’s Island Market, more taxi drivers are stepping forward to complain the special arrangements between gangs and certain taxi drivers and companies is an even bigger problem. The media report was that some taxis were allowed to wait in front of hotels and resorts in exchange for payments made to gangs.

Now, taxi drivers say hotels are linked to some of the deals too. Drivers accuse hotels of striking deals with some companies to pay ¥3,000 each month in lunches in exchange for drivers steering business to the particular hotels. The disgruntled drivers say the shady dealings have been going on for as long as ten years.

Drivers who are on the deal are allowed to wait at the front entrance to the hotel, while standard taxi drivers are run off by staff. Likewise, hotel staff only calls certain taxis to take its guests places.

A big accusation made to officials centered on an agreement where taxi drivers paid ¥3,000,000 for a year’s deal with a hotel in exchange for getting all the introductions and calls from its guests. The hotels, say drivers, always know where the guests want to go, so it’s easy to steer them. The particularly lucrative runs, where guests wanted to go long distances across the island, were given to the preferential drivers.

Taxi drivers are asking public officials to end the practices, saying every driver should have a fair shot at the fares.

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