Taxi drivers facing threat from ‘illegals’

Taxi cab sign
TIGHT regulations of rural taxis have been called into question with taxi providers here blaming poor business on illegal drivers.

Following proposals by the southern government to relax costs for rural taxis, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Phil Flanagan said if the same rules were implemented by the Stormont Executive it would have a “positive effect” on Fermanagh’s rural communities.

The local MLA believes this will help combat social exclusion and stamp out the growing numbers of illegal taxis operating across Fermanagh.

Presently, rural taxis have to pay the same fees as city and suburban taxis despite working in less populated areas.


The southern government are considering a proposal to look at ways of reducing costs, like lowering entry fees and minimising the requirements set by their Transport Department.

Some taxi providers in Fermanagh say that illegal taxis are still rife in the county and have called for the Department of Environment to do more.

Mr Flanagan said that some people living in rural areas are being left out from social events and prevented from seeing family because they cannot drive nor afford to pay for taxis.

“Much more needs to be done to help rural taxi providers,” he said.

“I think reducing costs will have a positive effect on rural taxi business.

“Much more help needs to be given to rural people to get about and by reducing costs for taxis this will help combat social exclusion.

“Anything to make it easier should be embraced.


“There are disproportionately high costs made for rural taxis providers given the ever increasing price of fuel and insurance.

“Illegal taxis are not good for those taxi people who are trying to follow legislation and comply with regulation. It’s an uneven playing field. Much more needs to be done to ensure that it is a sustainable business for rural taxis,” he said.

A north Fermanagh taxi driver said any changes to the taxi legislation that would lessen the fees of rural taxis could prevent his business from folding.

He blamed illegal taxis operating in his catchment  area coupled with taxi buses travelling from Enniskillen for his beleaguered business.

The taxi driver, who didn’t want to be named, feared that he will soon go out of business.

“It’s very hard to survive as a taxi driver, it’s really bad at the minute,” he said.

“To be honest anything at all that would alleviate it would be welcome but until such measures are carried out and until the DOE do something about it, we could be gone by the end of the year.

“I’m being forced to ask myself whether I should just forget about the taxi business and if it’s worth all of this,” he said.

“Between one thing and another it’s virtually impossible to continue because I’m not making enough money to carry on.

“I pay £5,000 in insurance and tax then a further £138 for PSV per vehicle.

“We are working for the same money now as we were five years ago.

“Because of the economic climate a lot of young people have left that have gone to Australia or elsewhere.

“There’s so much against us it’s unbelievable.

“We have seen the illegal taxis taking people home from pubs during the day.

“The problem is in front of us staring at us in the face and nothing is being done about it.”

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