Taxis hike hits hard

Majuro Atoll Taxi Drivers Association President Anej Ishiguro is pictured with his taxi. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

HILARY HOSIA

The cost of taxi fares in Majuro went up this week following unanimous decision made by the Marshall Islands Taxi Drivers Association over the weekend. False promises by current Majuro politicians is the root of the sudden increase, according to MATDA President Anej Ishiguro.

During the campaign season, taxi drivers were summoned to a meeting with then Majuro Nitijela contenders Kalani Kaneko and David Kramer at Anmarwut Gas Station. It was at that meeting, according to Anej, that the two candidates said they would work with private businesses to minimize the daily turn-ins. To date, taxi drivers are responsible to turn in $35 and $40 daily to taxi owners in order to keep the vehicle. Excess money after the daily quota belongs to the driver.

The ongoing increase in fuel cost and cost of living adds to their decision, Anej told the Journal Monday.

Gas prices rose to $7.10 per gallon at the Mobil-supplied stations downtown in March.

“Even leaders at Nitijela said they would look into the same issue during a public hearing our association attended,” Anej said. “The public hearing was conducted by Majuro Nitijela Member Stephen Philip. This was before the police required all taxi cabs to display drivers’ credentials in our vehicles.”

When asked whether prevention of taxi-related violence was discussed at their last meeting, Anej said he had requested the traffic division at Marshall Islands Police Department to conduct frequent traffic stops in order to prevent driver misconduct.

Majuro Parliament Members Minister Kalani Kaneko and David Kramer confirmed meeting with Marshall Islands Taxi Drivers Association last year and in previous meetings prior to the 2023 Nitijela campaign.

The main issue discussed with the drivers was for fair treatment by law enforcement during traffic stops, Minister Kalani told the Journal Tuesday. The drivers often felt targeted by police officers during road traffic stops.

The issue of the quota turn-in was also brought up but not by the current MATDA President, Minister Kalani and David said.

According to Kalani, a suggestion was made to work with the local government to liaise with taxi businesses and device a mutual ordinance that would benefit both drivers and owners.
The national government cannot dictate the daily turn-ins, Kalani said.

Kalani said he would follow up with Majuro Mayor Ladie Jack and his council to address the the matter that resulted in the increase of taxi fare across Majuro.

The new taxi rates for college students and adults (previous fare in parenthesis):

  • Rita to AG Office: $2 ($1.50)
  • PII Gas Station to Weather Station: $2 ($1.50)
  • Rairok to downtown: $3 ($2.50)
  • Laura to town and vice versa: $5 ($4)
  • Downtown area to airport is $8 ($5).

The bridge acts like a toll station: An additional $1 will be added when crossing the bridge from DUD area to Rairok.

The taxi association noted that high school and elementary students are not affected by the increase and will remain at previous rates.

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