Saturday 7 December, 2019

Major taxi stands relocating to King's Wharf in Sando

The San Fernando City Council has taken a decision to relocate the Chaguanas and Port-of-Spain taxi stands from High Street, San Fernando to Kings Wharf as part of an experimental traffic plan ahead of the reopening of the new school term.

The one-month trial traffic plan will see the stands moved further away from the centralised Library Corner in an effort to ease traffic congestion within the city.

The taxi drivers have been ordered to move in a week’s time.

The T&T Taxi Driver Network has opposed the move, claiming that San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello held no consultations with them.

President of the taxi association Adrian Acosta at a press conference on Tuesday also objected to the planned relocation on the grounds of safety concerns for both passengers and drivers.

He said the area was not well lit, lacked restroom facilities and was an injustice to passengers. 

“It is unfair, unacceptable and we believe the Mayor is victimising us," Acosta said.

He predicted that the relocation would affect businesses along the busy High Street as he claimed the Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas and Curepe taxi drivers collectively service around 15,000 passengers daily.

“When you put us down there the business people are going to suffer. Sometimes passengers drop on High Street they purchase items. This idea of putting us on the Wharf is a total waste of time and we are never going to support it," Acosta added.

When contacted, Mayor Regrello told LoopTT he held discussions with the drivers last week where he informed them of the planned move and addressed their concerns.

The Mayor defended the decision, saying Library Corner would be too chaotic when children return to school.

“San Fernando is such a peculiar place. You have schools, the Magistrates’ Court, three churches, along Harris Promenade.”

“What’s going to happen when children are back at school and it’s 3.30? I had to do what I had to do,” Regrello said.

In addition to the San Fernando, Chaguanas and Curepe stands, taxi stands for Marabella, La Romaine, Princes Town and Couva are also located at Library Corner.

The Mayor said many of the drivers operating the routes of the stands asked to relocate operate seven-seater vehicles and are notorious for double-parking along both sides of Harris Promenade, creating havoc during peak hours.

He said the stands have been moved to an area where the drivers will have more space and allows them to move more freely as they can utilise lesser-used streets for entry and exit, lessening the traffic along High Street and around Library Corner.

Regrello said, however, that the traffic plan was not set in stone.  

If the trial traffic plan is unsuccessful in alleviating traffic congestion, he said the stands would be returned to their original location.

The Mayor rubbished Acosta’s claims that he was victimising the drivers, noting that they were informed at last week’s meeting that they can return to upper High Street between the hours of 6 pm and 5.30 am.

He also addressed drivers’ concerns over safety noting that an additional 24 officers have been assigned to patrol the area to ensure passengers and drivers security and deter criminal elements.

The Mayor added that the move will be more of a benefit to passengers at its new location as it offers an additional means of transportation in the area, which also services water taxi passengers and commuters using the PTSC bus service.

“It will be another option for passengers if the water taxi or the bus service schedules are affected or don’t run. Passengers will not have to walk far to access another means of transportation.”

Responding to Acosta’s concern that the relocation will adversely affect business along High Street, Regrello said, “time will tell”.

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