Mandatory cameras in taxis are creating as many problems as
they are solving, and rogue drivers are ''getting away with
murder'', New Zealand Taxi Federation members say.
About 100 federation members are in Dunedin for the
organisation's 75th annual conference this week.
They raised concerns yesterday with Associate Transport
Minister and Dunedin MP Michael Woodhouse, who spoke about
the Government's review of taxi safety initiatives, including
mandatory cameras within taxis and ''24/7'' surveillance of
Mr Woodhouse said cameras were helping to solve crime,
including abuse of drivers, and deterring criminal behaviour.
Federation executive director Tim Reddish said many drivers
did not want cameras and bought the cheapest available, then
failed to use them.
''The bottom end of the industry is getting away with murder.
''Our people (federation members) can be trusted, but,
unfortunately, there are a lot in the industry that went for
the cheapest solution because they didn't want cameras in the
first place and we know anecdotally there are a huge number
of cameras not working out there,'' he said.
Mr Woodhouse was aware of ''knock-off'' Chinese cameras being
used, which was ''effectively fraud'' by operators.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) was making it harder
for those who ''continue to do the wrong thing'' and was
working with police and local authorities to tackle
non-compliance among operators, he said.
Mr Woodhouse was confident the review would help address
non-compliance, although Mr Reddish was not convinced.
He said the review should be done by ''top end'' Ministry of
Transport and NZTA officials, rather than Opus International
''There are a number of real problems that have to be fixed
up and we wonder whether this review is tight enough to deal
with those problems,'' he said.
Mr Reddish cited the proposed ''substantial'' increase in
compliance costs, and said operators were happy to pay as
long as the Government better dealt with non-compliance.
Mr Woodhouse said the cost of dealing with compliance far
outweighed what the Government collected through licensing.
''You don't like regulation and you don't like paying for it
- who does? But the answer is to a large degree in your
hands, and we want to work with taxi organisations so we can
have more confidence you are going to comply with necessary
standards to keep your drivers safe, their passengers safe
and other road users safe.
''If we get to that place, costs will go down and regulatory
oversight will go down,'' he said.
Another federation member said drivers were increasingly
asked for camera footage by police and the NZTA, which came
at a price.
''There is a cost to retrieve images ... The cost is becoming
not insignificant and I wonder if there is a way to recover
costs,'' she said.
She acknowledged cameras were useful and, in some cases, had
exonerated drivers accused of misconduct including sexual
assault, but sought a ''meeting of the cheque books''.
Mr Woodhouse said cost recovery by operators could be
considered through the review.