2775364
Taxi drivers at the San Fernando to Port-of-Spain stand wait for passengers at King’s Wharf, San Fernando, yesterday.

Taxi drivers abiding by the rules to carry reduced passenger loads are appealing for any relief measure in Government’s upcoming mid-year review.

Government goes to Parliament on Monday concerning money matters. The review will be delivered later on that day.

Under regulations, drivers must carry half the capacity of passenger loads. That also occurred last year when drivers were given relief grants to compensate for lost income.

Yesterday, drivers from areas in the north and south detailed problems. A San Juan driver who spoke with Guardian Media said he was: “In serious problems. People not working, so people not travelling. I can carry maybe three. So I have to work non-stop to meet my payments, mind my three children and wife who was let go from KFC and fix parts of my house that will fall down when rain start to come. But I can’t work 24 hours.

A Gasparillo driver said: “ I can only carry two passengers along my route which is over 12 miles. I was quarantined last month and had to wait 14 frustrating days—with no word—to finally find out the test result was negative. I struggling to keep my vehicle. Nobody is travelling and I can’t work at night.

“Anything I make with two passengers is gas money to remain on the road. My car carries four and I stick strictly to the half load of two, but some still carrying three. We all trying to abide by the law. Can they at least consider us?“

A Chaguanas driver added: “We recently increased fares. We don’t want to pressure passengers but we have to manage our business. The restrictions kinda working like a mechanism that increase the cost of living because we can’t make regular or full trips and income has dropped.’’

Taxi fares from San Fernando/Williamsville this week increased to $12 one way and $6 for short drops, but drivers also complained that few people were travelling.

Several St James PH drivers whose cars carry four passengers said they also noted the low numbers of travelling passengers: “But we can’t carry more than three.’’

Last week in Parliament, Opposition Whip David Lee asked Works Minister Rohan Sinanan if drivers would get any relief grant as was given in 2020. Sinanan said he was talking to the Finance Ministry. Yesterday Sinanan couldn’t say if there was any headway except to say that both Ministries were still talking.

Meanwhile, north and south business people were concerned that shipping charges could eventually have a negative impact down the line on consumers. One group, who spoke with Guardian Media, noted the charges they were paying to clear goods where operating hours were reduced under the State of Emergency and Public Health Regulations have impacted operations and operating costs.

Others noted operating hours were reduced under restrictions. They queried cargo receiving extra rental fees due to COVID delays and staff shortages to clear.

The Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce yesterday also noted continually rising shipping costs. Detailing issues for Government’s attention in the review, and seeking help, the Chamber stated: “Port charges, demurrage fees and rents from customs delays are contributing to importers’ daily frustration.

“Charges are payable in US dollars which are already an extremely rare commodity and this situation is resulting in creeping inflation. This coupled with smaller incomes, will inevitably increase the cost of living.”