Taxi drivers say there will be a nationwide hike in fares if the Government proceeds to remove the fuel subsidy when the Budget is read on October 5.
Speaking at during a press conference in Claxton Bay yesterday, T&T Taxi Drivers Network president Adrian Acosta said the taxi drivers have been suffering for a long time and any change in the price of fuel will devastate many families.
He said the network is an umbrella body representing 40 taxi drivers’ associations across the country and there was a unanimous decision to increase fares if the fuel subsidy is removed.
“If they take away the fuel subsidy we will have no choice but to raise our fares. We have been suffering for a long period,” Acosta said.
“They have taken away one of our seats and we already encountered four gas hikes during which we raised fares only once. If they intend to take away the rest of the gas subsidy will we have no choice but to pass on the burden to the travelling public.”
He noted that only 40 per cent of taxi drivers have been able to access the CNG kit conversion programme Government had offered to help reduce fuel costs.
“Sixty per cent of our vehicles still run on diesel,” he said.
Acosta urged the Government to think carefully about any further gas price hikes.
“We are saying to the Government, try and hold your hand on that gas subsidy,” Acosta said.
He also called on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to protect legitimate taxi drivers, saying some of them were being threatened by PH-drivers. As the economic climate gets worse, Acosta said many people were now working PH to the detriment of taxi drivers. He said long ago, PH drivers worked only at nights but now they were there right through the day.
He also said that the T&T Taxi Drivers’ Network has also rejected the offer of $750 to alleviate their loss of income.
“We believe in fairness. They gave maxi taxis $2,000 and give entertainers $5,000. We are considered an essential service.
“We are out there risking our lives. We are saying if there is any taxi driver that wishes to access that grant, they can do so on their own but the association rejects this offer,” Acosta said.
Meanwhile, network PRO Calvin Barker said it was taking too long for taxi drivers to renew their badges. Saying that it sometimes takes up to three months, Barker said this issue was raised since 2018 and promises were made to rectify it.
However, he said to date many taxi drivers were suffering because of the deplorable state of T&T’s roads.
Maraval Taxi Drivers Association president Jason Wickham also complained about PH drivers, saying he himself has been threatened.
“We need the authorities to inform the insurance companies that some people are using private vehicles for hire. We have a listing of over 60 white buses plying the trade. It is hampering taxi drivers’ income and someone needs to take charge,” Wickham said.
He said he has asked for traffic wardens to be stationed at the taxi stand at Duke and Charlotte Street but they were told this was not possible because that area was considered a hotspot.
“We have families to provide for and we need something to be done about these PH drivers,” Wickham added.
Efforts to contact Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan for comment yesterday were unsuccessful as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.