POLICE are cracking down on unlicensed airport taxi drivers working out of Murcia and Alicante airports.
But one expatriate says she was fined €500 when she was mistaken for a rogue cabbie by Guardia Civil. Others are warning legal taxi drivers may be behind a spate of tyre slashing incidents in an attempt to take the law into their own hands.
The prevalence of ‘illegal’ taxi drivers in this area has been an issue for many years, and as the tourists begin to arrive in their droves, more and more unregistered ‘Taxis’ appear on the roads.
Some work over and above the acceptable time allowed on the road, sometimes up to 20 hours in a day, much to the annoyance of those who are spending a large sum of their earnings on their registration and taxes and operating their service ‘by the book’. The authorities have become wise to it over recent years, hitting the pirates with hefty fines to offset the thousands in black money being pocketed each month.
However, so fierce was the campaign that every ‘Joe Bloggs’ claiming to be “merely dropping a neighbour off in exchange for a bit of petrol money”, or collecting relatives arriving for the holidays was also becoming a target, either receiving an on-the-spot fine or having their vehicle registration details noted and frequency of visits monitored by Police.
The practice still continues, and the EWN received a call from a very distressed reader called Pat, who claimed that she was stopped by the Police whilst collecting her Daughter from El Altet Airport, in Alicante, and they proceeded to reel off a tumult of questions, which with a limited understanding of Spanish she could not understand.
She said “One Officer started questioning me, asking where I was from, who I was meeting, and lots of other questions, but he spoke so fast that I just got into a panic,” adding that “this seemed to rouse their suspicions, perhaps they thought that I was nervous because I had something to hide, so then they went through my car and insurance documents with a fine tooth comb”.
She said that they conferred briefly over the documents, then handed her a fine for 1 €500, before “chastising” her over the need to pay tax if you work in Spain.
“I was in shock. I do not need to work over here and if I did I certainly wouldn’t attempt to sidestep the system in the process. It is this kind of behavior that annoyed me about people in the UK and part of the reason why I came here so there is no way that I would adopt the practice myself!”
Meanwhile, similar problems are rife at San Javier Airport, with the additional problem of tyre slashing becoming more common.
Warnings have reportedly been issued to airport users collecting visitors to “remain with their vehicle” if at all possible, as the airport has been overwhelmed by complaints of tyres being vandalized on the premises.
People carriers have been the main victims of the latest phenomenon, and mainly those which have made more than one visit to the airport within a short period.
On this basis, it has been suggested that legal taxi drivers with a personal grievance may be the perpetrators, hoping to “get their own back” on the illegal cabbies and put them out of action, albeit temporarily.
One victim, Sam, whose tyres were punctured during what he claimed was a visit to the airport to collect a neighbour, said: “If it was the taxi drivers who did this then I can’t blame them. It must annoy the hell out of them when they see people coming and going without a care in the world, and essentially taking money out of their pockets.”
“But two wrongs don’t make a right and if they advocate a ‘fair’ system then they should not behave in such an appalling manner themselves. It is criminal damage and innocent people are suffering, again due to the illegal pirates. Please let the Police focus on catching the criminals and leave the rest of us out of it!”
By Heidi Wardman