“A grant to help you weather the storm.”
This was how Works Minister Rohan Sinanan yesterday described cheques for $2,000 presented to maxi-taxi owners yesterday as part of the Government’s relief initiative for self-employed citizens who have lost income due to Covid-19 stay at home restrictions.
The money is to be used to purchase fuel.
Asked about grants for conventional taxi drivers, Sinanan said the Finance Ministry is expected to make a decision shortly on whether or not they will be given any.
Addressing the small gathering of evenly spaced out maxi-taxi owners at the Ministry of Works headquarters in Port of Spain, Sinanan admitted that Covid-19 and measures used to control its spread had affected the entire country.
“Government however rolled out several programmes to soften the blow and there have been several grants offered by the Ministry of Social Development,” he said.
He said following the decision to give them the grant, Ministry of Works employees along with the maxi-taxi associations began processing applications that came in on Monday with criteria used to ensure that no-one would take advantage of the programme.
Vice President of the Route 2 Maxi-Taxi Association, Linus Phillip, addressed the gathering, telling them that they are going to hear “lots of statements bandied about needing more”.
He said however, “At least we can get access to it in such a short period of time and it is a good thing that the Government and the Works Ministry placed its trust in us.”
Maxi-taxi owner Helen Figaro-Frank said: “I am feeling good. It is a help because you are just seeing your diesel going down so I really do appreciate this.”
Doolarie Jebourdsingh commented: “It is small but I am thankful for the help but things are really hard with us because we still have loans to pay, homes to run and with bills as well but the grant came through really, really fast.”
She said loans from banks and credit unions have indeed been waived but when time comes to pay there will be interest.
Asked about how the grant is accessed a Ministry of Works employee explained that the maxi-taxi owner must present a certified copy for the vehicle, valid insurance and valid inspection certificate as well as valid identification of the registered owner or owners of the maxi-taxi.
She said that these items are taken to the various maxi-taxi associations throughout the country who will examine the documents for validity and ensure the correct documents are presented. After these items have been checked the documents are then forwarded to the office of the Transport Commissioner for ratification. The maxi-taxi owner should be contacted shortly after.