A member of a Port of Spain taxi-drivers association is claiming that his life has been threatened by PH drivers.
He told this to a consultation between transport officials and drivers of taxis and maxi-taxis yesterday at the Motor Vehicle Authority at Caroni. The consultation was attended by Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan. The driver said reports to the police and to transport officials have fallen on deaf ears.
“Me and my wife have already been threatened. The latest threat is to burn my house down. My vehicle is always being vandalised.
“I’m am about to sell my car. My life has been seriously threatened. A 22 year old pushed his finger in my face and touched me and tried to knock my phone from my hand. I need to come out from this. I don’t know what I’m going to do for a livelihood. It is gangster rule.”
He feared for the association’s three female drivers, one whose car was hit by a PH driver who then demanded “compensation.”
“One was almost pulled out of her car by a PH driver. Another had her tires slashed.”
When he said drug dealers operate PH cars, other voices chimed in, “Police too.” His earnings had fallen from $8,000 a month to $3,000.
He asked why the authorities aren’t doing anything.
Once, after he complained to the police, a PH driver threatened him. “He told me, ‘Don’t let me see you out here for the rest of the day.’” He alleged a transport official’s reply to his complaints was, “I’m not putting my officers out there with those hooligans.”
The driver said some PH drivers try to chase legitimate taxi drivers from the taxi stand on evenings.
Transport engineer Rae Furlonge said, “I feel very disturbed by these details.” Transport engineer Dr Trevor Townsend said any attack on taxi drivers is an attack on the State.
The driver later told Newsday the hostility from PH drivers began when former works and transport minister Jack Warner considered partially legalising the PH drivers.
He alleged that a certain policewoman issues tickets to his members when they complain on the PH divers. He said some100 PH drivers are jostling 40 taxi drivers out of their livelihoods.
An official of a San Juan-based taxi association said some PH drivers utilise stolen cars, while boasting of gang affiliations. “It’s horrible. People are afraid to travel now.” A Diego Martin taxi-driver said PH drivers cause chaos at South Quay. “Some police do try, but the PH drivers just make the block and return.”
He said chaos also exists at the St James, St Ann’s and Maraval taxi stands in the capital. “PH men have us under siege.” An enthusiastic Sinanan vowed to meet the drivers on Friday at 10 am at his office. “We have to find a way to work with them (PH drivers) as well. They do serve a purpose in the night in some areas.”