Drivers on 3 south taxi routes plan to work despite protest calls

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A passenger enters a taxi in San Fernando. – ANGELO MARCELLE

THE call by the TT Taxi Drivers’ Network for transportation workers to stay off the roads on Tuesday in protest of the fuel price hike, will be ignored by some drivers in at least three taxi routes in the southland.

Last week, the network’s executive called on the 35 taxi associations which it represents, to stand in solidarity against what it described as a selfish move by Government.

However, speaking with Newsday on Monday, a taxi driver on the San Fernando to Penal taxi stand who gave his name only as Robin, said the protest call makes no sense.

He said while he understands the idea behind the protest, many taxi drivers cannot afford to stay off the roads, even if it is justified.

“The cost of living has increased and just like everybody else, we have bills to pay and families to see about,” Robin said.

He added that vehicle maintenance costs have sky-rocketed and tyres that once cost $350 are now $480 while the cheapest car engine oil is $50 per quart. “Everything has increased, the banks and groceries don’t want to hear that we can’t pay them because we decided to protest.”

He said the fare on that route is now $15, up from $10 pre-covid19, and any plans to increase this would have to first be discussed with the executive and voted on.

Drivers on the San Fernando to Curepe taxi stand also agreed on Monday that the one-day protest would not sway Government to reverse the gas price hike.

Daryl St John said the fare on this route was $20 and there was no intention to increase prices soon to put any more strain on their passengers.

He said the entire population was hit by an increase in gas prices, and people needed to budget differently since salaries are not increasing.

“I don’t see it making any sense to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday). We don’t carry big shot people, it’s the normal working-class people who we provide a service for. So, because the fuel rise, are we supposed to throw away our responsibility to our customers,” St John asked.

On the San Fernando to Chaguanas route, driver Anthony Sween said whether he stays off the road or not on Tuesday, the gas price increase would still be there later on.

He said he could not justify staying home to his family who has to eat whether the protest goes on or not. “The bills don’t stop just because people are protesting,” he said. “I have to do what I have to do.”?

Sween said the protest will not persuade the Government to reduce the gas prices. “At the end of the day, I don’t think they really care.

“It’s just $1, right? It will have an effect on everyone, but the Government continues to do what they want.”

The network’s call for drivers to stay away on Tuesday, coincides with the full reopening of all schools for the start of the new school term.

The network’s protesters are expected to converge in front of the Ministry of Finance at 11.30 am on Tuesday.

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

The price of diesel will go up by 50 cents to $3.91 per litre while the price of kerosene will be adjusted from $1.50 to $3.50 per litre.