Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers want FUL priority, pepper spray consideration

Given the skyrocketing crime rate in the country, taxi drivers should be given priority in applications for firearms and pepper spray permits.

The recommendations came from Adrian Acosta, president of the Taxi Drivers Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

This follows the hijacking and abduction on Monday of a PH driver by a gunman posing as a passenger, which led to a police chase and ended in the death of the suspect in Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.

In an interview with Guardian Media, he said taxi drivers face dangers on a daily basis.

He recalled that earlier this year about “two or three drivers” had been robbed and killed in eastern Trinidad.

Recalling a recent Association press conference in San Juan, he said, “(We) were talking to people in authority such as the police commissioner to let him know that some of the drivers at that time had afraid to engage their trade, especially later in the evening or early in the morning. And we even suggested that we get our FUL, which is the firearms license, so that maybe we can consider getting a personal firearm to protect ourselves because we’re on the road every day.

“We are business people, we deal with a certain amount of money daily and it becomes a bit of a challenge because sometimes you have people watching you every day.”

On Wednesday, a taxi driver from La Romain searches for passengers on Mucurapo Street in San Fernando.

On Wednesday, a taxi driver from La Romain searches for passengers on Mucurapo Street in San Fernando.

FRANCOIS INNIS

He said they asked the police about the process for obtaining a firearms license and got a written response.

“They said as soon as they gather the relevant information they would let us know,” Acosta said.

However, he said they would also appreciate taxi drivers being among the first to receive pepper spray.

“I prefer mace. I think mace is a better defensive weapon than pepper spray. I think it’s a non-lethal weapon and I think it would be wonderful if taxi drivers could acquire a box of it. Whatever process you need to follow should be made available to all taxi drivers across the country,” he added.

Although there are police patrols, Acosta said, a greater police presence at taxi ranks and on the road is needed.

Acosta, a taxi driver for nearly 20 years, called on taxi drivers to be more vigilant and be their brother’s keepers.

“We have to be very aware of who you are transporting and not just study the financial part because your life is more important than money so that will be my advice to any taxi driver, be careful, watch what you are doing on a daily basis and don’t be too greedy with money. Your life is important,” he added.

Meanwhile, criminal taxi driver Nardash Ramkhalawan, who only got his taxi badge six months ago, is also concerned about the crime situation.

“Crime is rampant, anything that could be done to reduce the crime rate would be good,” he said.

He suggested that there be more police patrols on High Street, San Fernando, where the taxi stand is located and that the police receive more vehicles so they can respond immediately to reports.

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