School maxi taxi drivers are finding it difficult to make ends meet this Christmas as they have not received their salaries for the past term.
Association of Maxi Taxi School Transport Concessionaires president Rodney Ramlogan said their last salary was in July.
Saying the matter was frustrating, Ramlogan said, "We are facing bare pockets at Christmas time. We cannot provide for our families.
The school term is on a break and most families are enjoying the festivities of the season but we cannot because PTSC through its lack of diligence and outright ineptitude has forced hundreds of us to spend Christmas without access to money which we have dutifully earned," Ramlogan said.
Despite many months of late payments caused by unexplained delays in the processing of returns, Ramlogan said the maxi taxi operators continued to provide transportation services to school children throughout the country.
"At the beginning of the school year, PTSC acting in bad faith and in a very ill-advised move, attempted to impose additional requirements on maxi operators/drivers by mandating that a new student data form be submitted along with returns and refused to process payments without these forms being completed and submitted," he explained.
He said the Association who initially opposed the new arrangements later compiled and the matter was resolved without recourse to litigation.
"The delay in the processing of payments caused by PTSC’s attempt to impose conditions not contemplated by the legally-binding contract has resulted in most, if not all maxi taxi drivers and operators facing Christmas without receiving payment for the past four months," he added.
Saying it was "unfair for the PTSC and by extension the Ministry of Education to expect maxi taxi owners and drivers to expend increasing sums on fuel, maintenance and insurance for their vehicles whilst the State is in a constant state of arrears," Ramlogan said they will have no choice but to take action against the Ministry and PTSC if they are not paid.
" Maxi owners are essentially micro-enterprises, who are not afforded the same credit facilities as larger businesses. It is, therefore, necessary for payments to be processed in a timely manner to ensure that those who provide this service are not saddled with financial burdens," he said. Ramlogan called upon the Minister of Education to intervene and ensure that payments were processed and funds are disbursed so that Maxi taxi operators could be compensated for the school transportation services.
"Should there be no effort to rectify this most untenable situation, parents would be faced with the very real prospect of having no school transportation services come January 2019, as operators are not in a financial position to continue providing this service in the absence of payment," Ramlogan said.
Efforts to contact Minister of Education Anthony Garcia proved futile as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva