Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan says a Cabinet note to treat with the issues in the national transportation network was expected to be taken before the Cabinet yesterday.
Sinanan was addressing members of the National Taxi Drivers Network at the Ministry of Works and Transport building in Port- of- Spain yesterday morning.
The taxi drivers held a brief protest, calling for Sinanan to meet with them saying they would not support any legislation to legalise PH taxis before Sinanan came down to speak with them.
But Sinanan made it clear that the Cabinet note would not recommend the legislation of PH taxis but ways to move forward to solve the issues facing taxi drivers and commuters.
“We are not regularising PH we are going to find a mechanism to have a legal process for everybody who wants to offer their vehicle for hire that there will be a legal framework for them to do it- it is not legalising PH, you cannot legalise something that is illegal,” he said.
Sinanan said the note also addressed rideshare services.
He said the taxi drivers will be the first stakeholders consulted once Cabinet approves the note.
“If it is approved, then we go out for consultation- I want to give the taxi body the assurance that they are the first group on the list for consultation and we expect that to happen sometime next week because it is something that we have a time frame to implement.”
Among the issues highlighted by the drivers was the long wait to renew their taxi badges and the threat of being victims of crime.
Sinanan said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has agreed to meet with the drivers to address their concerns but said meetings had been delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We must accept the fact that the drivers are under some stress and pressure from some unruly ‘PH’ drivers, they do have some challenges where they are being overpowered by some of the illegal modes of transportation,” he said.
He said the Cabinet note will treat with the entire public transportation system with a holistic approach.
“If you want to offer your vehicle for hire, you cannot disenfranchise the regular taxi drivers, for who this is their livelihood so we cannot have one rule for PH, one rule for taxi drivers and the regular taxi drivers are being disenfranchised. Right now in Port of Spain, the PH can get into Port-of-Spain and the regular taxis cannot, we cannot allow a system like that to continue.”
Sinanan said the public can also expect to see an education programme rolled out in the coming days to encourage more citizens to become taxi drivers. He said that programme was only approved on Thursday morning.
“We are going to put out a public education programme to encourage more people to come into the legitimate taxi service, you all will that rolling out within the next couple of days- the idea is to get everyone within a legal framework so we are going to show how easy it is to become a bonafide taxi driver, you will see that happening within the next few days.”