Transport and Works Minister Hon. Mike Henry met with taxi operators representing various taxi associations on Tuesday, April 28 at the Ministry of Transport and Works.
The meeting focused on the taxi operators’ claim for a fare increase in taxi fares consequent on the gas tax which was imposed as indicated during the Finance Minister’s tabling of the budget.
Minister Henry used the opportunity to outline the background to the imposition of the gas tax. The Minister noted that the funds needed to repair roads were far greater than that which was available from the budget. Against that background, he said that part of the funds that will be derived from the gas tax will go back into the repairs of roads all over the island. 20% of the intake from the gas tax will be dedicated to the Road Maintenance Fund in year 1 and 30% in year 2 while some 50% will go to it in year 3. The Minister said that the attendant repairs to roads from the fund should result in less wear and tear to motor vehicles which in turn should result in lower operating costs for the taxi operators.
For their part, the taxi associations represented by spokesperson Deon Chance, made a case for the taxi associations who were seeking a 30% increase on taxi fares. Other proposals brought forward by the taxi operators were: a freeze on the annual license fees charged by the Transport Authority, at least for another two or three years; that the operators be allowed to renew fitness certificates with the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) once yearly and not twice as is currently done and that a representative from the public passenger vehicle (PPV) sector sit on the Transport Authority board as well as for the Minister to better streamline the insurance industry as it pertained to PPV operators.
In response to the fare issue, the minister made it clear that the application fare increase would have to be justified outside of the gas tax. The Minister also highlighted the fact that the price of petrol was way above what it is now as opposed to when an increase was granted the year before. He advised the operators to put their proposals in writing.
Most of the operators seemed to have been satisfied when the Minister explained the rationale behind the gas tax but asked that if an increase in taxi fares cannot be granted, then the other proposals that were made should be seriously addressed as soon as possible.
Taxi operators from all over the island were represented at the meeting.