January 6 2011 – newsday.co.tt
The current dispute between the operators of maxi taxis and the Government, represented by Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner, will have no winners. Even if the maxi taxi operators prevail, and prevent in some way, the proposed “regularisation” of PH taxis, the travelling public will end up losing a form of transport upon which many people depend. The operators will have lost their earnings for Wednesday, and for any other days which they decide to withdraw their services. PH drivers, many of whom are honest (outside of their “PH breach”) hard-working individuals, may lose the opportunity to become a legitimate part of the economy. And the travelling public is suffering.
The maxi taxi operators have withdrawn their services in protest of Government’s announcement that the PH taxis will be “regularised”. However, the full details of this proposed “regularisation” have not yet been presented for examination and comment. The maxi operators are claiming that if the PH drivers are regularised, they (the maxis) will suffer. However, the PH taxis are already all in existence, and have been operating for years, and there has been no complaint from either the maxi or the legitimate “H” drivers. This fact is being lost in the noise being raised on the issue.
The maxi operators are also demanding a meeting with Warner, to whom they claim they have sent a letter, and have received no response. Warner claims that he has seen no such letter or demand, and his door remains open should he receive the letter. Warner has, since taking up office, always met with stakeholders claiming an interest in his initiatives, so we do not wish to think he is now avoiding the maxi operators. Indeed, he had met with them in the past, on the matter of “opening up” the Priority Bus Route.
We would like to suggest that Mr Warner take the initiative, and invite the operators to come in to his office to discuss their concerns. However, this could only be effective if the Government has a plan for the regularisation of the PH taxis, which would include the safety of vehicles, the insurance they would need, and the routes upon which they would be permitted to operate.
The Government, in its turn, could also use the opportunity presented in a meeting, to discuss the consumer complaints along the East-West Corridor, where maxi taxi operators have been accused of creating “short-drops” for persons trying to travel into the city along the PBR. The operators have been accused by travellers of dropping off their passengers at “stations” along the way, and then re-loading to continue the journey into the city.
We have no doubt that much of the “heat” being generated on this issue, like aligning the matter with the labour unions’ current demonstrations against the Government, have a political agenda in the background. All of this is not good for our country at this time, as we try to readjust to the new economic realities we face.
We can ill afford massive disruptions in our transport system at this time. Thousands of persons were badly inconvenienced yesterday, and we must not allow this situation to continue. We urge all concerned to find some common ground to restore our transportation system to normalcy. And we believe that the stage can be set for meaningful dialogue by Government outlining just what is their proposal and method for regularising the current PH taxis.
‘Could have been worse’
GOOD SAMARITANS were the heroes in the face-off between maxi-taxi drivers and the Government yesterday. While Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner and Linus Phillip, the president of the Route Two Maxi-Taxi Association, both claimed success over yesterday’s planned protest, it was the faceless heroes who stood out in the minds of stranded commuters
‘PTSC initiative a success’
We love you, Jack
As commuters boarded buses along the East-West Corridor yesterday they showered praises on Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner.