Radio Cabs, the island's second largest taxi firm, is fighting to keep its 195 vehicles on the road after transport officials suspended its licence.

The company is accused of not using the GPS satellite tracking system, a relatively new legal requirement.

Last night Joella Dawn Simmons, who heads the public service licensing board, said: "If people are calling Radio Cabs and they are answering the phone and dispatching taxis, they are breaking the law."

The company is challenging the suspension notice and was still operating last night.

The news comes at the start of what is expected to be one of the busiest tourism seasons in years, although it was unclear last night whether the issue is expected to drag on into the summer.

Government made it mandatory for taxi companies to use GPS in 2005, despite protests from some of the taxi drivers and owners.

GPS is supposed to improve customer service and allow for a more even distribution of work among drivers. Mrs. Simmons told us the board had received "multiple assurances" from Radio Cabs owner Edward Darrell that he would train his drivers how to use the technology, but it hasn't happened, which is why it suspended the licence.

She said: "The licence has been suspended because they are not using the GPS system. They are not using data dispatch, they are using voice dispatch."

She continued: "In the past, Mr. Darrell has given the board his assurance that he was going to get the data dispatch system.

"He tested the system in front of us.

"He said he was going to train his drivers to use the system.

"The board visited him on several occasions."

The public service vehicle licensing board delivered the suspension letter to Radio Cabs on Friday.

Court battle?

On Monday, the company's lawyer, Delroy Duncan, sent the board a grievance letter saying it wanted the matter to go to court.

It challenged the board on several points including:

n The company is not legally obliged to use only a mobile data terminal (or GPS) to assign jobs;

n That it is unfair and unlawful to penalize Radio Cabs when the drivers refuse to receive, accept and/or turn on the mobile data terminals in their vehicles;

n The letter did not constitute a real suspension because it wasn't written as it should have been.

Mr. Duncan advises the board that Radio Cabs will seek "substantial damages for any and all loss occasioned to it."

While the company claims it cannot be held liable for its drivers' actions, a source close to the issue alleged another problem is that company is "resisting efforts to collect data."

He added: "The issue manifested itself in real terms this weekend.

"We had two ships in Dockyard, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. There were 2,774 people and one taxi."

As of last night it was unclear what the next course of action will be. Mrs. Simmons told us: "The board will have to wait and consider whatever information it receives."

Other dispatch companies are complying, she said. "So why should Radio Cabs be any different?"