Red Band maxi taxis parked outside the Arima Police Station on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Andre Dillion)

Eight red-band maxi-taxi drivers were arrested on Wednesday, when police caught them without any permits that would allow them to operate during the curfew hours.

Guardian Media understands the drivers have since been charged with breaching the Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Emergency Powers Regulations, 2021, which states:

4. (1) Subject to the exemptions set out in subregulation (5), no person shall be outside of their private dwelling, including in a motor vehicle, ship or vessel during the hours of–

(a) 9:00 pm to 5:00 am from Monday to Friday;

(b) 9:00 pm to 5:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays,

without the authorization of the Commissioner of Police or such other person or authority as may be authorized by him for the purpose and any such permission may be granted subject to such conditions as may be specified therein.

Spokesman for the group, 42-year-old Andre Dillon, said while operating in the Arouca area along the Priority Bus route around 4:45 am, the drivers were stopped and taken into custody at the Arima Police Station.

Dillion said the law may be confused.

“I heard the Prime Minister say public transport workers are essential.  I believe that we can operate during the curfew hours because no clear statement was made that we could not operate during curfew hours to move essential workers,” he said.

“Today I transported two security guards, two sanitation workers and one nurse,” Dillon told Guardian Media.  “There are people waiting on transport from very early in the morning who have essential jobs to do. The officer put them out of the maxi-taxi and ordered me to follow them to the police station and two hours after, around 7 am, the policewoman said that we will be charged.”

Dillon said based on what he heard in the Prime Minister’s statement, he understood it to mean that public transport workers were essential. 

“On Monday and Tuesday, I transported other essential workers.  I observed PTSC buses were on the road before 5 am and police did not stop me. I am not sure if any new regulations came out. I was not given any information that taxis and maxi-taxis need a permit,” he revealed.  

He added: “There are people the sides of the streets with curfew passes but no transport. Imagine a garbage truck cleaning at 8:30 am.” 

Dillon said maxi-taxi drivers are essential to get frontline workers to their jobs on time, to ensure the wheels of the economy and essential services keep rolling.