SOME commuters were left stranded yesterday morning in San Fernando, while others took alternate routes as taxi drivers protested the city corporation’s decision to relocate the Port of Spain and Chaguanas taxi stands.
Drivers parked their vehicles by their respective stands on Library Corner and refused to work. Some say they were there from as early as 6 am and had placards stuck to their windows.
Both stands will be temporarily relocated on a one-month trial period from August 26, to King’s Wharf between 6 am and 5.30 pm, and Upper High Street and Harris Promenade from 6 pm to 5.30 am daily. The major concerns voiced by most were the safety of their passengers and the restriction of working hours. They say they are a 24-hour working stand. Drivers from La Brea, Point Fortin and Siparia also regularly use the PoS taxi stand.
On Tuesday, San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello told Newsday the decision is “not cast in concrete,” and said Library Corner is overly congested and double-parking is a major issue. He also said there will be an increase in police presence at the wharf during the trial period.
One driver told Newsday, King’s Wharf is a “dangerous” and “dirty” place, adding that the bathroom facilities there are in poor condition. He said the decision will be “killing” taxi work.
“Would the mayor go by himself down by the wharf to stand up to go for a car to go PoS at 3 am? No, he wouldn’t send his family there. You know who is suffering? The travelling public. But he don’t have to go through that because he have the mayor car that does come home by him, pick him up and carry him by the office,” the driver said.
The fare from San Fernando to Port of Spain is $17, and $14 to Chaguanas. The drivers say they have been trying their best to maintain this, despite increases in fuel prices, in the interest of their passengers. One PoS driver who decided to work was called a “traitor” by his peers.
Secretary of the PoS taxi drivers association Randy James attended a meeting with the mayor at City Hall during the protest. He told Newsday, “Right now, the force on our head is the problems and complaints that the banks sent out to them. The details (of the meeting) were indiscipline with how drivers are with the rowdiness, and the major drivers who blocked the (Republic) Bank door to hustle passengers.”
After this meeting, the Chaguanas drivers called off their protest but the PoS drivers continued.
At around 11 am yesterday, president of the association Kenneth Williams told Newsday the group was awaiting a phone call from the mayor after another meeting scheduled for 2.30 pm.
The drivers say if a mutual agreement is not made, the protests will continue.
When contacted, the mayor said a compromise was made.
“I met with them (taxi drivers) this morning where they made some suggestions. This was discussed with the TTPS and Municipal Police, as well as the Ministry of Works who did not find favour with it. However, they have agreed to review the situation after two weeks.”
This story was originally published with the title "Taxi strike in San Fernando" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
TAXI drivers in San Fernando are protesting the decision by the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) to temporarily relocate the Port of Spain and Chaguanas taxi stands.
The stands will be relocated on a one-month trial period from August 26, to King's Wharf between 6 am and 5.30 pm Mondays to Sundays.
Drivers are parked at the current stand on Library corner and are refusing to work. Some have been here from as early as 6 am.
One driver said, "If the mayor want to put us down there, it come like he killing off taxi work. We really come here to prove we have something to say. We do not want to go down there."
He continued, "We trying, we really trying but the mayor just decide he don't want to hear us."
One driver who decided to work today was called "a traitor" by his peers.
President of the Port of Spain Taxi Drivers Association Kenneth Williams told Newsday the group is awaiting a phone call from San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello.
More on this as information becomes available.