OVER $1 million in grants were given to 62 maxi-taxi drivers by the THA to bring their vehicles up to the required standard for the reopening of the next school term in September.
On Friday, Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett along with Assistant Secretary Orlando Kerr distributed cheques on Friday after the virtual post-executive council media briefing.
Speaking prior to the distribution, Kerr said it was a “very pleasing day for the division and it is a very pleasing day for Tobago.”
The grant total was $1.6 million, with $25,000 going to drivers of maxis and $30,000 for those with maxi-taxis.
He said meetings with the drivers started in February and since then, a draft policy had been developed for the school transport system, as well as a draft memorandum of understanding between the division and the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).
“We have also been able to almost complete contracts with the drivers for the first time in the history of this whole transport system. We have made significant progress.”
He said it was recognised that owing to the pandemic, many of the drivers were out of work and their maxi taxis were unused for very long periods.
“We really needed to step up and give them some assistance to bring their maxi taxis up to scratch, for want of a better word. We would like our children to be transported safely to schools. We want to ensure that the insurance, the tyres and the mechanical working of the maxi taxis are up to scratch. Therefore, we felt that we had to intervene in terms of giving these maxi-taxi drivers some kind of assistance.”
In April, Chief Secretary Farley Augustine mentioned the grant, which he said would be distributed to the many drivers “hard hit” by covid19 who to date had been unable to get any kind of relief from the Government.