Members of the TT Taxi Drivers Network on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain where the spoke to the media against the hike in fuel price on April 19. Photo by Jeff Mayers
The Trinidad and Tobago Taxi Drivers Network has heavily criticised the government’s move to increase fuel prices.
Two weeks ago Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced a $1-per-litre increase on premium gasoline and super gasoline. It is now sells at $6.75 and $5.97, respectively.
Imbert also announced a $0.50 increase in the price of diesel, which is now $3.91 per litre. The price of kerosene also increased from $1.50 to $3.50 per litre.
As the new prices took effect on Tuesday, the association’s president Adrian Acosta led a protest outside the Ministry of Finance, where he said government acted heartlessly by following through with this move.
“We, as the TT Taxi Drivers Network, are disappointed in the government for making this decision at this time.
“We are now coming out of the hardest part of the pandemic, where most of our citizen were home for almost two years. For them to remove the fuel subsidy is a heartless move.”
Even though the new prices have already gone into effect, Acosta said it isn’t too late for the public to “stand down and stand up” in protest.
“This is not going to affect taxi drivers, it’s going to affect every single person, because businessmen in TT are not going to absorb that increase. They are going to pass it onto the public.”
Acosta predicted, based on the new gas prices, taxi drivers would lose up to $45 a day.
At this point, he said members of his association have agreed to hold their hand on increasing their fares to absorb the burden of the price increases.
“We see this as a double loss for taxi drivers, because we are going to be losing money at the end of the day, because we still have to turn around and pay more at the groceries. It comes like we are losing double and triple a day.”
The association has renewed its call for the public to force government’s hand to reverse the decision.
“We believe 50 per cent of our taxi drivers did not come out today and 50 per cent of the public stayed home.
“We are saying to the people of TT today, if you are complaining about something, you need to stand up and speak out about it or stop complaining. Complaining fixes absolutely nothing.”
He said the association plans to take further action after consulting with its membership.
“We don’t really want to raise at this point. We have lost a lot of money during this pandemic. Yes, some of us have adjusted our fares to level off the burden, but it didn’t work. We have high-maintenance vehicles, and like everyone else, we have families to support. We are businessmen, and I don’t know of anyone to go into business to incur a loss.”
He also called on the government to cut down on illegal taxi drivers. He hopes past discussions with Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan on new laws and the regularisation of PH taxis would be considered and put into effect.