Hundreds of commuters were forced to walk from the East Dry River into Port of Spain yesterday morning as the Route Two maxi-taxi drivers protested over poor conditions at City Gate.
From as early as 5 a.m., women and men holding babies, boxes and bags were all forced to make the trek into City Gate on foot as the maxi-taxi drivers parked their vehicles just outside the entrance of City Gate, refusing to enter the compound.
One commuter from Barataria described the protest action as “a real inconvenience” as she hurriedly walked towards Charlotte Street while a young man on his way to work said he had to walk from just after the Beetham into City Gate.
“They say they are having a protest over the conditions inside the compound but I’m not sure what this is about. I was as shocked as everyone else to be thrown out of the maxi so far outside the compound,” he said.
Another commuter who expressed displeasure over the protest action said, “I don’t understand what they really doing; they suffering the commuters over an issue that has nothing to do with us. This is just disgusting,” the woman said.
Visibly upset, a commuter who declined to stop in order to speak with the media shouted, “We should not have to pay because they didn’t drop us to our destination. I don’t know what this country coming to.”
President of the Route Two Maxi-Taxi Association Linus Phillip, who was at the time surrounded by other drivers, told the Express the drivers decided to take action because they were fed up with the many issues that have been affecting them for the past three years that weren’t being addressed.
“We have a little five-hour protest because this facility has had no management for the past three years. A facility like this, with this flow of people, and you have no management.
“The association itself has been trying to manage this place with the help of volunteer drivers but it reach to the stage of violence now.
“The other day, one of the drivers who was volunteering to run the line, a tout came and
pelt a stone through his glass. We have instances where fellas pull jack handle to hit drivers because there is no one in authority. We have tried our best; we even pay a guy to give
out numbers on a daily basis.
“For the past three years, we have been in negotiation with the Minister of Transport
—we have had four of them. They put a committee in place to come up with a draft proposal for here. That draft is more than a year old.
It was almost completed under Devant Maharaj (who was
Minister of Transport). It was given to Chandresh Sharma (he took over from Maharaj as minister), he didn’t do nothing; Stephen Cadiz (another Minister of Transport) came and the first meeting we had with him, we gave it (the draft) to him
and, to date, nothing. We are going on three and a half years and nothing,” he said.