Commuters in west Tobago are complaining about an increase in taxi fares by West End taxi drivers, saying they too were feeling the pinch from the rising cost of living with salaries remaining the same.
President of the West End Taxi Association (WETA) Trevor Thomas had last month advised commuters that as from Monday, December 3, fares will be increased by $1 due to the recent $1 hike in fuel prices, as well as higher maintenance costs for vehicles. The West End Taxi Association services the Scarborough to Carnbee, Bethany Road, Buccoo, Bethel and environs rotes and Crown Point routes.
In his October 1 budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that the super gasoline was being increased from $3.97 to $4.97 per litres with diesel remaining at $3.41 per litre and premium at $5.75 per litre.
On Tuesday, commuters at the West End taxi stand in Scarborough were unanimous in their disgust at the increased fare.
“The distance travelled by car in Tobago is barely quarter that of our fellow Trinidadians, yet our taxi fares are higher in this little island. Why is that? Why,” one commuter wanted to know.
Another passenger chimed in: “So taxi fares raise again but salaries not moving up.”
One irate commuter said taxi drivers need to understand that they were the only ones being bothered by rising costs of living.
“Yes, I understand their plight, yes, they have to ensure they could manage the increases based upon the recent hike in fuel prices as well as other maintenance costs, but they have to understand that we, the travelling public, are being inconvenienced as much as they are.
“Every single year the Government raising gas prices, but where are the salary increases. I understand the economy is tough, but the Finance Minister said that things are turning around, increase salaries then,” he said.
One commuter wanted to know ‘how taxi fares are calculated in Tobago, while another declared:
“The whole country complains that fuel is finishing extremely fast and it’s costing more to maintain vehicles. The Minister stated publicly that it is public mischief but is like the taxi drivers in West End alone feeling the pinch.”
“Taxi drivers want raise fares but are their vehicles up to the road worthy standard? Some of them same PH and taxi drivers need to come off the road. Who seatbelt not working, who air condition not working... If you are providing a service and wants to charge hot price. Start by fixing your car.”
In the interim, President of the Tobago Maxi-Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, Cloyd Williams said there were no plans by his membership to increase fares, in the short term at least.
He said they will have to work out the ramifications of increases in fuel and taxes on their operations before any cost is passed on to the travelling public.