Newsday visited two taxi ranks in Port of Spain on Tuesday when scores of drivers voiced their opinions on rising fuel prices.
Vishal Roopchand of the Port of Spain Taxi Stand in San Fernando said, “I don’t see why the price hike is needed right now,” and said he knew it would affect them. Roopchand said its members will meet with taxi drivers in St James before announcing whether fares will be increased.
As announced on April 9, premium and super gasoline now cost a dollar more per litre, while diesel has seen a 50 cent increase. Tuesday’s price hike led to protests across the country and a strike by taxi drivers.
A taxi driver from the Port of Spain taxi rank in Chaguanas, Jason St John, said compressed natural gas (CNG) should be the way to go. He said he was paying more than $8,000 for fuel per month, which could now reach $10,000 or more with the new fuel prices.
St John said CNG would cost significantly less than super or premium gasoline, as he pointed out that drivers can pay $25 to fill their tanks.
But Miguel Dolabaille, president of the Chaguanas to Port of Spain Taxi Drivers Association, said the cost of installing the CNG kits will depend on the car, but can be between $9,000 and $15,000. Dolabaille said that could put a strain on their income.
A commuter shared a day in his life as someone who relies on taxi services. Kurt Henry said his trip starts with a taxi from Port of Spain to Chaguanas and then another taxi in the Chaguanas area to get home, which is almost $500 every fortnight.
He said that wasn’t the only thing he needed to worry about: “Seeing that fuel prices have gone up, so will food.”
Henry said he also had to take care of his three children, but the salary he was earning was not enough and he would like to see a raise.