Taxi drivers from South Trinidad are divided over whether taxi fares should increase because of the impending hike in fuel prices which take effect from next week.
Guardian Media spoke to several taxi drivers plying various routes including San Fernando to Chaguanas, Princes Town to San Fernando, Curepe to San Fernando, Point Fortin to San Fernando and Claxton Bay to San Fernando.
Out of these five routes, drivers from three routes revealed they will not increase their fares, while the Chaguanas and Curepe drivers said an increase is imminent.
One taxi driver Kadhar Goolcharan who works from San Fernando to Chaguanas said the cost of vehicle maintenance had skyrocketed so an increase was justified.
“Parts are more expensive, tyres are expensive and we are not getting the volume of passengers like we once did,” Goolcharan said. He explained that it sometimes took between two to three hours to get a “full trip.”
“Things hard for us. It would have been alright if we had the volume of passengers but we cannot deal with an increase in gas and still manage without a price increase,” he added.
But Kevi Lovell agreed that an increase in fares was warranted, saying many taxi drivers like him had opted out of working taxis because it just did not make any sense.
“It has been tough for us during the pandemic but we surviving by the grace of Allah, we making things work and we appreciate but if gas gone up, what do they want people to do? What is one dollar increase? We have to increase to survive. What is one more dollar to pay? Everybody has to survive,” he added.
Another taxi driver Roger Rajkumar who works from Claxton Bay to San Fernando said taxi drivers had already taken increases in fares during the pandemic so it was not fair to increase fares again.
“We have to understand that we are in a business where we have to keep passengers comfortable and happy. We cannot keep raising fares else people will stop travelling and then we will be out of an income,” Rajkumar said.
Long-standing taxi driver Darlando Ramsahai who works from Princes Town to San Fernando agreed that a price increase would burden the travelling public.
“Things are hard and the economy is not nice. People not working and some have lost their jobs. We have to do what is right and try not to put stress on people. We have decided to remain at $12,” he added.
On Monday, the president of the Point Fortin to San Fernando Taxi Drivers Association John David disclosed that his association which represents 80 taxi drivers will also not increase their fares.
David urged his fellow Taxi Driver Associations not to increase their fares saying, “Hold your hand and watch how the things going before your raise any fare. Watch how the gas situation is progressing. Money is not all. We need the travelling public to be on our side. We don’t want to run them.”