Taxi drivers plying the San Fernando to Chaguanas and San Fernando to Port of Spain routes are up in arms over the San Fernando City Corporation’s move to relocate them, in a plan to reduce congestion in the city centre.
Some of them refused to work on Thursday, leaving their customers stranded and having to find alternatives in getting to and from their destinations.
Some drivers parked their vehicles in their customary locations at the top of High Street, and kept them there for five hours as a mark of protest. Commuters travelling to Chaguanas from San Fernando were left with such choices as having to take a Port of Spain or a Curepe taxi, incurring extra costs for doing so.
The plan, described by Mayor Junia Regrello as a trial run, is the City Corporation’s way of seeking to ease congestion in the city centre, populated by a number of schools and churches, the Magistrates’ Court, the Police Station, the San Fernando City Hall and the hospital among major buildings in that immediate vicinity.
The current arrangements make for what the mayor described as “a traffic nightmare” for all concerned. Given that the King’s Wharf area already is the site of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) terminal, as well as the Water Taxi service, the mayor said this move would afford travellers a third option, announcing also that the City Corporation would provide additional police protection in the area.
Stressing that it is a search for a more sustainable solution, he said if indeed the plan does not work, the city would find alternatives.
Appearing not to be placated by any of this, the Chaguanas Taxi Drivers Association, in particular, was handing out copies of a petition on Thursday, asking people to sign their disapproval.
From one perspective, the mayor and the City Corporation have as their responsibility, the welfare of all San Fernando and its burgesses, as well as those who come to the city for business, work, pleasure or recreation on a daily basis. He has stated, correctly, that it was his and the corporation’s responsibility, to fashion solutions “to ensure a free and simple flow of traffic,” through the city.
While taxi drivers constitute an integral element in the transportation aspect of that matrix, their particular interest is just one part of the puzzle to be examined here.
They appear to be seeking to hold the mayor and the corporation to ransom, further inconveniencing their own customers in the process. There was a time in the not-too-distant past, when indeed the very King’s Wharf area was the hub of taxi services, particularly between San Fernando and Port of Spain.
And with the assurances of a beefed-up police presence, with the existing operations of the PTSC and the Water Taxi service right there, the sense of obstinacy being exhibited by the Taxi Drivers Association in this case appears more than a little misplaced.
They should give the plan a chance to work. Especially on the mayor’s commitment of a review, now reduced from one month to two weeks based on complaints from the taxi drivers.