Angry over the reclassification of their vehicles from seven-seaters to six-seaters, taxi drivers across the country are preparing to take the Ministry of Works and Transport to court to have the decision reversed.
In a midday protest in Port-of-Spain yesterday, president of the T&T Taxi Drivers Network Adrian Acosta said the drivers had met with officials from the ministry after a protest several months ago but nothing came out of that meeting.
Acosta and a handful of drivers from the Chaguanas to San Fernando and the Arima routes were undeterred by the rain as they stood opposite the ministry’s headquarters for several hours yesterday.
“We are here to highlight the injustice that is being done to the taxi drivers, they are now downsizing our vehicles from seven to six when you go to licensing office, they are saying it’s a weight issue, we are saying that is impossible,” Acosta said.
He said over the past months, taxi drivers were stopped while on duty by licensing officers and were being instructed to visit the various licensing offices to have their vehicles reclassified.
But Acosta said the instructions were only given to certain drivers and he called on the Police Commissioner and Works Minister Rohan Sinanan to investigate.
“If you are downsizing, do it across the board, not just the seven-seaters and they are choosing which seven-seater they want to downsize. Right now we have certified copies for the same type of vehicle- one carrying four, one carrying six and one carrying seven- we are saying these people at licensing office don’t know what they are doing they are waking up in the morning and deciding what they want to do.”
Acosta said the drivers were fed up and have decided to take whatever action necessary to safeguard themselves.
“Today we are now going to launch our legal action on this matter, in about two days’ time we are going to be serving the persons in authority a legal letter with a court date on it,” he said.
Taxi driver Kevon Philbert, who took part in the protest, said in February when he went to the Licensing Division office to have his seven-seater inspected, he was told he needed to have the vehicle reclassified to carry six passengers before the inspection could be done.
Philbert said he has visited the San Fernando Licensing Office on four occasions since then and was given a volley of excuses but is yet to get any documentation stating his vehicle has been reclassified.
“On the first occasion I went, they said the person didn’t come to work who was handling it. Then two times after that, they had no ink to print it. Then the fourth time, they sent it to Caroni to get it done,” Philbert said.
He said the careless responses has left him in limbo and unsure how many passengers he can carry as his certified copy still says his vehicle is registered for seven passengers.