South taxi drivers, commuters unaffected by fuel-price protests

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The dreaded day came, the increase in fuel prices was implemented, and many people braced for traffic jams and roadblocks since there were planned protests across the country.

But the taxi drivers, private vehicle owners and commuters in the San Fernando whom Newsday interviewed said they were unaffected.

At the major taxi hubs on High Street, San Fernando on Tuesday morning, drivers from the San Fernando to Curepe and San Fernando to Chaguanas routes said they prepared for the worst but were surprised at the outcome.

Newsday spoke with Hugh Patrick Waterman, who said he did not heed the call to stay off the roads because he needed to make money to reinvest in his job and maintain his family’s needs.

He however said, the protest initiated by the TT Taxi Drivers’ Network would have been more effective if the commuters had stayed away.

“Whether or not they raised the gas prices, I still have to put gas in my car in order to work. I believe that it was the travelling public to protest.

“Work this morning – the work was great. There was a smooth flow of passengers, and I did not get much traffic, it was the usual traffic faced every day,” Waterman said.

One driver plying the Chaguanas route said he supported the call to stay off the roads, but was not optimistic that it would change fuel prices.

Francis, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, said, “The protest may help for other things, but they already raised it (prices). I just hoping for the best.”

Akeila, a commuter, said she did not encounter any problems with getting transport to and from Chaguanas, but was considering using alternative transport, like the Public Transport Service Corporation.

Another commuter who did not want to be identified said she had no choice but to use public transport, and because of where she lived, in Princes Town, was not able to use an alternative.

She faced traffic congestion with the city of San Fernando, and called for better traffic management.

“People just wanted to voice their opinions. But at the end of the day this Government does not listen to anyone, they just do what they want.

“Things are really hard. Schools reopened today, then the courts reopening in September, and the taxi stands on High Street add to the congestion.”

The TT Taxi Drivers’ Network called on the 35 taxi associations it represents to stand in solidarity against what it described as a selfish move by the Government to raise fuel prices.