Point Fortin taxi drivers are calling for a relaxation of the rules which now restrict the number of passengers they can carry during a trip.
They are also asking that they be considered eligible for food cards and the loss-of-income grant.
As one of the measures to prevent the spread of the covid19 virus, government has mandated that public transport vehicles operate with no more than 50 per cent of their licensed capacity.
President of the Point Fortin Taxi Drivers Association, John David, is now appealing to the Minister of Works and Transport to increase the number to five passengers instead of three in a seven-seater vehicle.
He said the association met to discuss the financial strain this new arrangement will have on the drivers who operate between Point Fortin and San Fernando in mainly seven-seater vehicles. David said there was consensus that the members approach the minister. He explained that passengers can be spaced out to maintain social distancing.
“Instead of the three, we want to carry five – two in the back, two in the middle and one in the front. We understand the situation the country is going through and we want to do our part to help, but with three passengers, we can’t make at all.”
Commenting on a message circulating on social media over the weekend that fares had been raised from $15 to $30, David said the association never sanctioned any increase in fares and they are resisting any such move because “everybody in the same predicament.
“Some drivers want to do what they want to do, and some who want to do what they want to do are not members of the association. That message circulating about a raise in fare is false information.”
He said the drivers are also in a bind because one of the service stations which offers CNG at Mon Repos, San Fernando has been closed. He said one of the gas stations in Point Fortin is also closed adding further pressure on drivers.
David said they are trying their best to provide a necessary service, but in light of the restrictions and fewer passengers travelling, asked for food cards for his members.
He said given that government has granted concessions for people who have lost their jobs as the country goes on a two-week stay-at-home restriction, he pleaded with government to consider taxi drivers for the $1,500 loss-of-income grant.