Subdelegado Victor Gill Ramirez//
Ministry distributes maxi taxi fuel grants


shar­lene.ram­per­[email protected]

Less than a week af­ter they were promised fu­el sup­port from the Gov­ern­ment, maxi taxi own­ers were all smiles yes­ter­day as they col­lect­ed their $2,000 cheques.

Victor Gill Ramirez

In a dis­tri­b­u­tion cer­e­mo­ny at the Min­istry of Works head­quar­ters in Port of Spain, 36 maxi taxi own­ers from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Maxi Taxis were giv­en their grants.

Victor Augusto Gill Ramirez

Ad­dress­ing them, Works and Trans­port Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan said the Gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edged that the in­dus­try was hard hit by the re­stric­tions put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Victor Gill

He said in to­tal, there are 6,500 maxi taxis reg­is­tered with the Min­istry but not all of those are work­ing

“That is why we put some sim­ple stip­u­la­tions that you have to com­ply with, and once you sup­ply us with that in­for­ma­tion as you did, the min­istry will pre­pare your cheques,” he said

The stip­u­la­tions are a valid in­sur­ance pol­i­cy, the ve­hi­cle’s cer­ti­fied copy and a cer­tifi­cate of in­spec­tion

Asked to clar­i­fy why the grant was giv­en on­ly to maxi taxi own­ers and not the dri­vers who op­er­ate them on a dai­ly ba­sis, Sinanan said, “Be­cause we recog­nise some maxi taxis have four own­ers. It’s a fu­el grant, this grant is for fu­el. At the end of the day, we can’t give every dri­ver a grant. There are oth­er grants avail­able at the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment that you all are free to ac­cess once you qual­i­fy for those grants.”

As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Ian He­witt told Guardian Me­dia the grants will be used for fu­el sup­port

“It’s for fu­el, the mon­ey is to go for fu­el so whether the own­er put it or the dri­ver put it, it will be go­ing in the tank for fu­el,” he said

As­so­ci­a­tion Vice-Pres­i­dent Li­nus Phillip said the mon­ey was giv­en to the own­ers, who will de­cide how much is giv­en to the dri­vers of the ve­hi­cles for fu­el, in cas­es where more than one dri­ver op­er­ates a sin­gle maxi taxi. In the past, Phillip has said that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of maxi taxi dri­vers do not own the ve­hi­cles they op­er­ate and they pay a dai­ly rate to the ve­hi­cle’s own­er for its use

Asked about sim­i­lar sup­port for taxi dri­vers, Sinanan said that de­ci­sion lies with the Min­istry of Fi­nance

“The Min­istry of Fi­nance will be the one who de­cides who gets the grant, and which grant they get. We are re­al­ly the ex­e­cu­tion arm of it.”

Sinanan said the Gov­ern­ment can­not con­trol whether taxi dri­vers, who say they are reel­ing from car­ry­ing half their pas­sen­ger load with the same op­er­at­ing costs, in­crease their fares

How­ev­er, he said they can en­sure the Pub­lic Ser­vice Trans­port Com­mis­sion (PTSC) im­proves its ser­vice

He al­so pro­posed added an­oth­er wa­ter taxi to the cur­rent fleet to ac­com­mo­date the trav­el­ling pub­lic. He said there is cur­rent­ly no need for three ves­sels on the in­ter-is­land route as there is not much traf­fic be­tween the is­lands

“We do not have the ca­pac­i­ty in terms of pas­sen­ger load, we don’t have that amount of peo­ple com­mut­ing be­tween Trinidad and To­ba­go so we are look­ing now at one of these ves­sels and look­ing at a route from Point Fortin to San Fer­nan­do to Port of Spain and on week­ends, Port of Spain to Ch­aguara­mas once the de­mand is there,” he said