WITH an upsurge in robberies along the Priority Bus Route (PBR) the Route Two Maxi-Taxi Drivers Association is now contemplating putting in a surveillance system on board their vehicles.
In a telephone interview yesterday president of the association Linus Phillip talked about the upsurge in robberies along the Arima/Port of Spain route over the past month.
He said the robberies are being carried out by a gang of three to four men who have no regard for the law.
Last week a bandit was shot and killed by a plainclothes police officer who was part of a team of officers detailed to investigate a spate of maxi-taxi robberies along the Arima to Port of Spain route after he and another man robbed passengers of their valuables on a maxi-taxi on the Priority Bus Route.
Phillip said: "We have robberies happening at half-five in the morning. Before they used to come out late at night. What is happening is the bandits are seeing that nothing much has been done about their activities so they get more brazen, more brave and they coming out anytime.
"The association has been looking to see how we can maybe get surveillance systems on all the maxis. It is an additional cost on top of the high instalments that drivers have to pay. We are looking at $40,000 to $50,000 a year in insurance and over $10,000—$12,000 a month in installments and these systems cost about $8,000 to $10,000, so that is an additional cost again."
Phillip said because the bandits get on to the maxi-taxis anywhere between Arima and Port of Spain it has made it difficult for them to pinpoint where they'll strike next.
He added: "I have been speaking with the president of the Yellow Band Maxi Association and he said they are having the same problem where the bandits are sticking up the maxis and making the guys drive off-route to back roads where they rob everybody. Sometimes they take out the key and throw it in the bush, so it happening on other routes as well."
Phillip said although they have met with the Besson Street police and Transit Police about having plainclothes police officers ride the maxis but some of the drivers are now at a point when they get robbed they are reluctant to report it because they feel the police are not responding to their plight.
The Sunday Express also spoke with members of the public who use the PBR and they too expressed concern over the increase in robberies along the route.
Anita Haynes-Thomas who was robbed on a maxi taxi exactly one year ago today said she was scared and concerned over the issue but has no other choice but to use the PBR.
"Today is the 15th of September, last year on the 16th of September which is my birthday, I was robbed in a maxi right by Pashley Street corner. They snatched my chain. So I am scared and concerned about what is happening with the robberies but I still have to use the maxis because I have to go to work. I think that there is a need for more police presence not just on the maxis but traversing the bus route in their own vehicles as well," she said.
A woman driver who was robbed and shot ten years ago by bandits said that she has lost all hope in the law.
"We ask for change, we see a little improvement but is a fluctuation. (The police) would do their work now and sometimes they not doing it. So you find the bandits getting boldfaced. They robbing people when they want, how they want, nobody to stop them," she said.