Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has confirmed that he has directed the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Office of the Attorney General to create a system to control ‘PH’ drivers.

While closing his contribution to the debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions Financial Action Task Force Compliance Bill in the Parliament yesterday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi revealed that Rowley had given a “directive” to the Ministry of Works and Transport to manage ‘PH’ (private hire) drivers.

“I don’t know about ‘manage’,” the Prime Minister said in response to questions after the debate ended.

“I think we need a system of authority and control to be able to exclude undesirable elements. We need a system that permits, identifies and approves who can ply a vehicle for hire. Some system that is enforceable.”

He also confirmed that both the AG and Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan would be tasked with creating that system.

This development comes just days after another young woman, Ashanti Riley of San Juan, went missing after boarding a private taxi and was found murdered four days later.

It also comes amid calls from several quarters for Government to find ways to regularise ‘PH’ taxis.

While closing off yesterday’s debate, Al-Rawi revealed that he and Sinanan had met with a team after receiving the PM’s directive.

“I could say now, up to yesterday (Wednesday) the Minister of Works and Transport met with his team and I was there so that we could manage ‘PH’ drivers, law enforcement and protect our innocent. The Prime Minister has given a directive to get it done,” he said just before his time expired.

Just days ago, Sinanan said there was no real conversation about regulating ‘PH’ taxis. At that time, Sinanan said the conversation was not about regulating ‘PH’ taxis but more about how to allow more drivers to become registered taxi drivers.

Legitimate taxi drivers require a Certificate of Good Character to obtain a taxi badge, while anyone can drive a ‘PH’ taxi and work the same route as the legitimate taxi drivers.

Guardian Media attempted to contact Sinanan and Al-Rawi for more details on their meeting but neither responded to calls or texts last night.

Meanwhile, the Miscellaneous Provisions (FATF Compliance) bill was yesterday passed with 23 votes in favour, six votes against, with one abstention.

In delivering his closing remarks on the bill, Al-Rawi praised Opposition senator Jayanti Lutchmedial for presenting a more thoughtful contribution than her colleagues. He said in getting T&T off the FATF negative listing, the Government did not get a lot of support from the Opposition.

“On the occasion where we required three-fifths majority support, we had to make concessions that the FATF was very unhappy with because the Opposition changed its mind,” he said.

“And there were occasions when we had to come to this Parliament and strip apart bills so only a simply majority would work.”

Al-Rawi said because of that, he now took no comfort in any support by the Opposition on the FATF matter.