Recent amendments to regulations covering the operation of light transport vehicles are effectively creating a monopoly detrimental to operators and consumers, four operators have claimed in a judicial protest.

The amendments to the Light Passenger Transport Services and Vehicle Hire Services regulations were published in the Government Gazette in May.

The operators - Aron Gatt, Aldo Cutajar, Trevor Barbara and Paul Piscopo - said that while some of the changes were “important and necessary” the regulations were artificially narrowing down competition by creating exclusive zones where such operators were prohibited from rendering a service.

In terms of the regulations, vehicles used by such operators may only be parked on the streets for a period not exceeding 60 minutes and the driver needs to display a parking disc in a clearly visible spot inside the vehicle.

Moreover, they cannot stop at a distance of less than 250 metres from taxi stands at all sea passenger terminals, Malta International Airport and the entrance to Valletta.

Nor can they stop within 100 metres from any other taxi stand and within 15 metres from any bus stop.

Such restrictions effectively created a monopoly and amounted to unfair competition since other operators in the field were not targeted by similar regulations, the operators complained. 

This also meant that consumers would no longer have an option on what transport to use. 

They called upon the relative authorities to take immediate action within five days.

The protest was filed against the Minister for Transport, the Transport Authority and the State Advocate. It was signed by lawyer Matthew Paris.

Although they had already voiced concern with the relative authorities, no action had yet been taken to remedy the situation, the operators added in a press release.

Besides taking their grievances to court, these operators are also currently in the process of setting up an association that will be known as the Light Passenger Operators Association. 

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