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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Transport Commissioner speaks on "PH" cars...

From an article by Gyasi Gonzales in the Trinidad Express:
Police certificate of good character: $50.
Inspection of car: $150.
Four passport size photos: $40.
New number plates: $50 - $70.
Medical exam: $200.
Plying one's own car for hire on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago without getting a ticket ... Priceless!

The above figures, which total between $490 and $510, are approximately how much it would cost the "PH" driver to "fall within the ambit of the law" and convert their cars into a legitimate public transportation option.

There are 35,350 cars on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago registered to ply as taxis.

Both Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert and Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert have signalled that strong action would be taken against PH drivers, following several high profile crimes allegedly done by some in their midst.

In a brief interview yesterday, Transport Commissioner Rueben Cato said he had been contacted by groups representing the interests of "PH" drivers who wanted to discuss the intended crackdown against them by the police. They wanted to know if some sort of arrangement could be hammered out with respect to them continuing their trade.

His response to them was "in no uncertain terms" could he entertain them, adding that "PH is illegal and I am not speaking to anyone". He noted that "it is not that difficult at all" to make both car and driver into a legal business entity.

Cato first outlined the steps and the costs involved in getting a taxi-driver's badge. He said the driver would first have to obtain a police certificate of good character.

"You must have a clean police record but depending on the nature of the record (if there is one) we will still consider you," he said.

He explained that "If a man was charged with weed 15 to 20 years ago" he would be considered. He said, however, that for serious crimes, the chances of getting a taxi-driver's badge would be difficult. Cato added that it was a two to three week process in terms of getting the police certificate and the candidate must be driving for more than one year and be over the age of 21.

The driver's medical condition has to be considered as well. A medical certificate with respect to the condition of the candidate's eyesight, hearing and limbs has to be tendered along with the police record during the application process. Four passport sized photos have to be submitted as well. This takes care of the driver.

There is another process for the car. At a cost of $150, the car has to be inspected if it is over five years old. In fact, as a hired vehicle, it has to be inspected every year. Seatbelts, brakes, lights, engine, tyres and body of the car will be checked. If the car proves to be in good working condition, the car can then be converted into a hired vehicle. Cato estimated that new plates would cost between $50 and $70.

"I am cautioning all owners of private cars who allow these vehicles to work as PH to comply with the laws and have their vehicles changed to H to fall within the ambits of the law and protect the travelling public," he said.

"To those who say they are providing a service, if you care about these people you will turn your car to H to protect them so that in case of an accident they will be covered by insurance."

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