Vice president of the Trinidad and Tobago Taxi Drivers’ Network Jason Wickam, left, and Assistant Secretary David Mack address members of the media during a candlelight vigil to highlight violence against women on Macaulay flyover on Monday night.

The Trinidad and Tobago Taxi Drivers’ Network says the illegal PH taxi trade is tarnishing the industry and affecting their livelihood. During a vigil in Claxton Bay on Monday night for murdered clerk, Andrea Bharatt and other victims of violent crimes, the network called on the government to clamp down on PH drivers.

“I only hope the government takes the initiative to deal with this matter because our taxi name is being stained by the illegal entities who are plying routes stating that they are taxis. It is not right for us who are depending on our daily income as taxi drivers and doing what we have to do which is right in the taxi associations and we at being penalised and stigmatised because of these little issues that the government, I stress on it, they can rectify,” said vice president Jason Wickam.

Complaining that they have sent recommendations to the Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and were promised numerous meetings, he said they never materialised.

“We sent a lot of proposals and suggestions to them (about) how we can rectify the problem and we still waiting, still we waiting on it and it is not fair to us to be getting stained now because of what men choose to so in this PH industry and tarnishing our reputation as taxi drivers.”

He said their livelihood is being affected because the public is afraid to travel regardless if it is an H or P car. He offered an apology and empathised with all passengers who were attacked while travelling. “My apologies to every person who has been affected, the losses made pertaining to these young ladies and whoever they have not found` as yet. The taxi drivers of Trinidad and Tobago Network, we are sending our sincere sympathies to all families but please I appeal to you all please do not give up on us cause we are not giving up on you and the general public to travel with or industry.”

Assistant Secretary David Mack said their proposals included assigning route numbers to different routes and implementing colour-coded license plates to various areas. Agreeing that systems must be put in place to safeguard the travelling public, councillor Nadia Khan-Mohammed recalled that a group of young women who attended the vigil on Sunday night said they were scared to use public transport.

“This is not right because now you are putting taxi drivers on the bread line.” She called on those in authority to stop pointing fingers and protect the public. “Enough is enough. Are we going to wait for something like this to happen? All of us are Andreas today or yesterday was Andrea, tomorrow might be me tomorrow might be you. I don’t want to say tomorrow might be the Prime Minister or one of his ministers. I don’t want to say that. It is unfortunate that something like that could happen. Now is the time for us to unite, unite as a community. Let us come together as a country. We have laws, let us reinforce our laws.”

She said the vigil would continue for this week.