Passengers get into a PH taxi at the corner of Queen Janelle Commissiong and Charlotte Streets in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

The operation of “PH” taxis are illegal – and the public should treat them in a way to assist authorities to get “PH” drivers into the regulated transportation environment by not utilising their services.

Also, the new APT James ferry en route to Trinidad and Tobago has stopped over in Malta to wait out a winter storm.

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan confirmed both situations in the Senate yesterday.

He was replying to Independent senator Paul Richards’ query on the “PH” system which Richards said may have led to the murder of San Juan teen Ashanti Riley recently.

Sinanan said his ministry continues supporting the T&T Police Service’s efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He said enforcement of the law against illegal “PH” taxis falls under the National Security Ministry. His ministry, he noted, assists with traffic wardens and transport officers – plus demarcation of taxi stands and bus terminals to identify public transport access.

“At the same time, it’s recognised the “PH” system is one that abounds,” Sinanan said.

Over time, he said the state had sought to implement measures to encourage those who ply “PH” into the regulatory system.

“Presently, we’ve again started talks with the Attorney General to develop mechanisms to allow as many individuals desirous of entering the provision of transportation services the opportunity to do so via mechanisms that will allow for the safety and security required,” he said.

On another query by UNC senator Anil Roberts, Sinanan said the new APT James ferry, sailing from Australia to T&T, is having a layover in a safe harbour in Malta, awaiting the passage of a severe winter storm. It’s due in T&T by month-end, he said.

He said the vessel was completed despite COVID restrictions affecting material supply and workers, as well as the closure of the borders of Vietnam where it was being built. The second ferry for the inter-island “run” – the Buccooo Reef – is currently undergoing sea trials and expected here early next year.

On UNC Senator Wade Mark’s query about recent fuel contamination in Tobago, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said contamination of fuel at NP Orange Hill gas station was due to an inadvertent mixup of storage for diesel and super gasoline. He said diesel was offloaded in the super storage tank and vice versa. He said this was because station personnel and the driver involved didn’t adhere to standard operating practices. He said procedures ahead include greater adherence to proper practices, training and exploring the changing of the coupling for the gas pumps.