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With numerous reports of criminals disguising themselves as PH taxi drivers, robbing, raping and killing women, the La Romaine/Gulf City Taxi Drivers’ Association launched their uniform yesterday to ease fears among the travelling public. Up to Monday, a 29-year-old Carapo woman reported that she entered a PH taxi near the Arima Velodrome. Instead of taking her home, the driverallegedly took her to Blanchisseuse, where he raped her.
The associaton said the idea for the initiative comes from the deaths of Maraval teenager Ashanti Riley last November and Andrea Bharatt in January.
Speaking at the launch at Harris Promenade, San Fernando, yesterday, association president Reynold Dass said they idea behind the uniform was that people could recognise the bonafide taxi-drivers.
Dass said people can feel safer knowing that they are travelling with someone’s whose sole purposed in transporting people. “Today is the first day we are launching it. One of our drivers was going with it during the week, and he got a good response. A lot of people talked about it, and they said it is good on us,” Dass said. While someone can attempt to copy their T-shirts, Dass said only one printery does the design. The drivers also have colours for different days. Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said the launch followed complaints from various taxi drivers associations concerning issues affecting their service operation.
Regrello said the murders of Riley and Bharatt heightened the awareness of women’s safety. Based on those complaints, he met with the Municipal Police and the T&T Police Service to address some of their concerns.
He said, “We must think really about our women and their safety. They deserve that protection, and it is our responsibility as well to ensure this happens. We are working and collaborating with all the taxi drivers associations and focusing on Library Corner. Library Corner is a major taxi hub and it is where things can happen.” Southern Division Superintendent Ian Carty said police officers support the association in this initiative to provide more safety to the public.
“Members of the public will be able to better identify the taxi drivers when they go to the taxi stand so there will be no doubt as to who is a taxi driver concerning La Romaine taxi drivers,” Carty said.
He said other associations might soon adopt the use of uniforms