Taxi drivers operating various routes in south Trinidad are relieved and eager for the Government’s $2,000 fuel grant to be rolled out.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced on Saturday that $6 million has been allocated to provide grants to registered maxi-taxi and taxi operators to compensate for their losses as a result of having to operate at 50 per cent passenger capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Rowley said details about the grant will be announced in the coming days.
However, the taxi drivers Guardian spoke with are hoping that very soon details regarding the application process and when they will receive the grant will be disclosed.
San Fernando to La Romaine taxi driver Ricardo Cuffy said he heard about the grant over the radio.
“Two thousand a month in gas that going to assist us a whole lot, especially since we only working with 50 per cent capacity,” he said Sunday.
If he gets through with that grant, he said he will reduce the fare which was raised from $6 to $10 a trip.
He said, “When I get the grant I will give back to the passengers.”
A Princes Town taxi driver, who gave his name only as David, said the restrictions, although necessary, have made it very challenging to earn a decent income.
He said even though they raised the fare from $9 to $15, they were still making less money and the traveling public has reduced.
“I heard about it (grant) but is when. Two months done gone already, obviously they not going to give you for those two months,” he said.
David said he had hoped that on Saturday the Prime Minister would have announced that taxis could resume operating at full capacity. “Yes, we want to try to keep everyone safe, but the guys suffering. I know everyone suffering.”
However, San Fernando to Marabella taxi driver Steve Smith was cautious about the grant. “A waste of time. They have to come to every taxi driver and make sure they registered and they have their papers. That will never happen,” he said.
While the grant is an excellent idea, another Marabella taxi driver Rahim Thomas queried, “These owners who have seven and eight vehicles how they going about paying that grant. It is a good thing but I rather that go to the pump so you use a card, instead of cash.”
Couva/Point Lisas/San Fernando Taxi Drivers Association president Orlando Romilly said his members have been calling him non-stop about the grant.
He said, “Some of the members weren’t sure whether they grant was for taxi drivers too. But, that will help us a lot. It is hard for us to work with 50 per cent capacity. What about those drivers who working for somebody and have to come up with $1,000 a week.”
Romilly said they are looking forward to applying for and receiving the grant as soon as possible.