[private] This past December I wrote a column depicting the state of affairs of the taxis here on Roatan. Now, I would like to expose another aspect of the local taxi agenda. Perhaps it would be prudent to insert a disclaimer here since not all taxi operators indulge in this illicit exercise. This practice has been going on for several years, and has been revealed by numerous visitors to our fair island. Apparently many taxi operators, especially those stationed at the airport, have worked out deals with hotel managers to deliver unsuspecting visitors to their place of business for a price.
Here is how it works. The Smith family arrives at Roatan International Airport and has reservations at the Maya Hotel. The Taxi driver informs them that, that particular hotel is either closed, or a very unsafe, or a perilous place to stay. He then volunteers to take them to a more reputable place, where they will be more comfortable and safe. Of course, he drives them to one of the locations that pays him a special commission. The unsuspecting clients agree and Bam! Another con is perpetrated.
I am aware of hotels that no longer accept reservations, because their clients never arrive. Why? Since they have refused to take part in this scheme, their customers are diverted to sites that do. I consider this a form of blackmail. Why blackmail? Because hotel managers are pressured by these taxi operators and threatened that unless they cooperate, all of their future customers will be diverted to sites that do participate in this improper arrangement.
My question is, why haven’t the authorities responded to this outrageous practice? A practice that not only has been allowed to exist, but to even prosper, to the point of becoming the norm. It reinforces the notion that in this part of the world, lawlessness is the standard and corruption a way of life. And what of the damage done to the reputation of this island? Does anybody care? The only ones immune from this, are those hotels that provide transportation for their clients. Wouldn’t it be something if measures were actually taken to eliminate this deplorable practice? We can dream, can’t we? [/private]