Trinidad Express / Maxi Taxi owners/operators employed under the Maxi Taxi School Service by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) are calling on the State-owned entity and the Ministry of Education to clear the air on outstanding salaries due to them.
The operators, who provide transportation to school children between the hours of 6-8.30 a.m and 2-4.30 pm Monday to Fridays, said they are being owed for the months April to June with July more than likely to be added to that period.
Spokesman Fazie Mohammed said: “The reason we have not taken protest action yet is because we really don’t want to put the school children at risk but it has become unbearable because it is leaving us in debt.
“Right now most of us owe tire shops, are borrowing money from banks to upkeep our vehicles and are struggling to take care of our families. In fact, some owners are in jeopardy of losing their vehicles and their livelihood because they upgraded by purchasing new maxis and cannot meet their monthly installment to the banks.”
Mohammed said that while they have been quite patient, the Ministry of Education and PTSC have been playing a tit for tat game with them.
“The ministry is telling us it’s PTSC fault while PTSC is saying they haven’t receive the money from the Government. However, we want to let them know we are fed-up of this nonsense because it has been going on for years under previous administrations.
“I’ve been in the system 17 years now and it’s only getting worse, so clearly the system isn’t working and thus, it needs to be fixed,” Mohammed said.
He said the other issue they have is that whenever they are paid it’s never the full amount owed to them.
“They never pay the full amount in a single payment, it’s always one fortnight at a time and sometimes you have to wait weeks upon weeks before you can get all your money. To make matter worse, whenever we complain about the treatment meted out to us PTSC’s response is ‘why don’t you leave the job’. That is inconsiderate and insulting and it shows that they do not care about us and our families.”
Mohammed said they understand the country is going through a tough economic period but like everyone else they are working, providing a service to the Government and are not being compensated in a timely manner.
“We are calling on the Prime Minister to look into both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Transport and to have them fix the system as it is causing us to lose money because at present we cannot plan our lives and our children’s future since whenever we receive payments, it’s just to clear off debts,” said Mohammed.
Ronald Forde, PTSC’s General Manger said the situation is an unfortunate one.
“Our relationship with the maxi taxi owners goes back a number of years so what would be the benefit of us receiving money from the ministry and not paying them. Something like that would never happen under my watch.”
Forde said they have not received the necessary funding from the Ministry of Education (MOE) to facilitate payments to maxi taxi owners. “The last payment we made to them we did it out of our funds and if we were in a position to clear the arrears owed to them we would have done so, but the reality is we’re not in such a position.”
He said as soon as PTSC receives the money from the MOE the payments would be made.
“I spoke with the president of their association on Saturday and I indicated to him what our position is, so they are aware of where we stand on the issue,” said Forde