Drivers: Brace for taxi shortage Tuesday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President of the TT Taxi Drivers Association Adrian Acosta. –

THE traveling public has been warned to brace for taxi troubles on Tuesday, as the TT taxi drivers’ network intends to protest the fuel price hike.

On Thursday, the executive held a meeting at the Vistabella community center and agreed to stay off the roads.

President Adrian Acosta said the fuel increase only added to the negative effects the taxi drivers have had to endure over the last two years, and called the move selfish by the Government.

He explained their action was warranted since the population was still trying to catch itself from the lockdowns brought on by the covid19 pandemic, and called on the public to stand in solidarity with them.

The network, Acosta said, was not going to stand idly by, and vowed to make its concerns against the price increase known through various actions.

“For over two and a half years we suffered because of the pandemic, and we believe the Government reducing the fuel subsidy is going to affect us even more. We believe that that decision the Government made was a very selfish decision.

“It is not only going to affect taxi drivers, it is going to affect every citizen of TT, whether it is by travelling or by purchasing items from a grocery or store. Any removal of the fuel subsidy automatically transfers to the traveling public and consumers, one way or the other.”

To curb the spread of the covid19 virus, the Government restricted the capacity for public transport to 50 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively, over the past two years. The restriction has been fully lifted and public transport has returned to normal capacity.

The reduced capacity, Acosta said, forced many drivers to leave the profession because they were unable to pay for their vehicles and make ends meet.

The network’s plan to stay away also coincides with the reopening of school and the return to work for many after the Easter holiday long weekend.

In this file photo, commuters wait for transport at the Morvant taxi stand in Port of Spain on February 16 after the island-wide blackout which caused many businesses to close early. –

Acosta said while it would be an inconvenience, it was an action that was necessary. And while the planned protest would include the 35 taxi associations, it was not forced upon them.

“The Minister of Finance said he raised gas once, he raised gas twice, he raised gas three times, and nobody rioted. We are not rioting, but we are going to make a stand and tell the citizens to stay off the road to show the Government that you are very disappointed in them. It might not be affecting those who have, but it is affecting the small man.

“We drive high-maintenance vehicles. Everything else has gone up — oil, parts, things in the grocery. Public servants and other people are complaining their salaries have not gone up. We believe it is an unjust move by the Government at this point in time to further reduce the fuel subsidy.

The network said the increase in fares by some associations was within their remit to do so.

“We have a way out, but the traveling public is under tremendous pressure at this time. We are recommending to the membership, because we don’t have the power to tell anyone to raise their fares, to hold their hand at this time on increasing any fares.

“When Government take way the fuel subsidy, it is not just Tuesday it is going to affect. That is going to be for the rest of the year, for the rest of your life. One day more, the citizens have to stay away. I don’t see that affecting the country. We have been at home for two years now.”

Acosta said among the ills drivers faced daily was the bad condition of the roads.

He said taxpayers are not seeing the benefits of the increased prices they are being asked to pay at the pumps.

“The fuel subsidy has been removed in the past and we have not seen anything being done with that money. Our roads are in a total mess.”

Effective April 19, the prices of premium gasoline and super gasoline will be adjusted by $1 per litre to $6.75 and $5.97 per litre respectively.

The price of diesel will be adjusted by $0.50 cents per litre to $3.91 per litre.

The cost of LPG remains fixed at $21 for a 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas for domestic customers, and the price of kerosene will be adjusted to $3.50 per litre which is little over half the true market price

The current prices of premium gasoline, super gasoline, kerosene and diesel are $5.75, $4.97, $1.50 and $3.41 per litre, respectively.