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Paphos taxis to be inspected
INSPECTIONS of all taxis at Paphos airport will be carried out over the next few days following a raft of complaints related to overcharging, the head of the road transport department said yesterday.
Soteris Kolettas told the Cyprus Mail: “In the wake of the reports, which came to my attention, of increased numbers of alleged overcharging at the airport, we will be arranging a common inspection in cooperation with the traffic police, of all of the taxi vehicles at the airport in the next few days”.
The inspection will include checking that all vehicles have operational meters, which are in regular use and in compliance with the law.
“I have also arranged for inspectors from the department to be on duty at Paphos airport, in particular when the Ryanair flights are using the facility, to oversee and inspect that things are being done correctly,” said Kolettas.
The transport chief said that although he hadn’t received specific complaints against a particular driver or a taxi overcharging, he is taking the problem seriously.
“The inspectors will also be present at destinations, such as hotels, to check that everything is correct. This will include checking that the taxi meter is on and operating correctly and that the passenger is charged the correct amount,” he added.
The move will be welcomed by the head of the Paphos regional board of tourism, Nassos Hadjigeorgiou, who says a solution to the long-standing problem of overcharging must be found immediately, to prevent further damage to the tourism industry.
“The tourism board has received complaints from clients and travel agents that visitors to Paphos have been overcharged for taxi fares from and to the airport, by more than 100 per cent in some cases,” he said.
“Records show that a taxi meter reading for a fare from Paphos airport to the tourist area in Paphos is €18. Therefore, a couple with luggage shouldn’t be paying more than €20 or €22. But in some cases, passengers have been charged as much as €50”.
Hadjigeorgiou said taxi drivers must be made to understand that visitors won’t accept being cheated and that the damage has a wider effect on the tourism industry and the reputation of Cyprus. “Drivers must charge a fare price and behave as travel professionals,” he said, adding that the bad reputation had come about as a result of the actions of a minority of drivers.
“There needs to be more frequent checks on drivers, not only at the airport but also random checks by transport inspectors of taxi meters on the way to the destinations,” said Hadjigeorgiou.
“It would also be advisable to place an inspector at the airport on a permanent basis, to ensure the law is being followed and operated correctly. This can’t go on any longer.”
Last week the vice president of the Paphos taxi drivers association put problems with overcharging down to the recession, competition from buses and illegal drivers, saying not enough business was prompting some to overcharge,
The drivers are to meet with representatives of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) today in Paphos.
CTO chairman Alecos Orountiotis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that they were “greatly concerned” by the reports of overcharging.
"As the CTO we try so hard to attract tourists and then a taxi driver comes and overcharges people... they have to realise they are hurting their business and tourism," Orountiotis said.
Asked why there was no indicative price list at the airport for taxi rides to various points in the city, Orountiotis said it was a possible solution "but not the only one".
"We need tighter controls at the airport, the police should also be more efficient in examining complainta…there are multiple actions we need to take," he said.
Although Orountiotis conceded that a price list, for example, would be a sensible practical step to take he also said that it was a bit insulting to Cypriots.
"I personally find it offensive. Why should we need to do this? It's as if we're saying that Cypriots are thieves," Orountiotis said.
To avoid any potential scoundrels people should only get into registered taxis, make a note of their licence number, and always ask the drivers to put on the meter. Anyone who fails to do so should be reported to the police, and refer their complaints to the CTO.