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Forecast for Evening
Becoming fair.
Time to seize the moment for 2018
Thursday, January 18, 2018

People are by nature risk averse so while many will look towards 2018 with overall optimism when it comes to money, finances and the performance of the respective financial markets we are always tempted to find any number of things to worry about.

That being said there are no shortage of issues to occupy our minds. One only has to look at the daily headlines. At a global level it could be North Korea, it could be the Middle East, it could be a continued trend of climate related challenges or it could just be the unpredictability of key global leaders. All of these are enough to cause us worry.

However through all of our worries and concerns it is important to appreciate that markets spend more time in an up cycle than in a down cycle. The problem is that moves to the downside occur more rapidly than moves to the upside. This is where the fear factor comes in.

Using the US stock market to illustrate the point in any one year the stock market will go down roughly 47 per cent of all trading days. However those are the days which will capture the headlines and so those are the days that investors will remember.

Over time it seems like more than it really is and investors shy away thinking investing in stocks is too risky.

On an annual basis going back 90 years the benchmark US stock market index the S&P 500 has had gains in 66 years and losses in 24 years.

However once again the loss years stand out because of the drama that usually surrounds. We remember the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, we remember the dot com crash of 1999 and 2000, we remember Black Monday of October 1987. We tend to forget everything in-between but the real opportunity lies in those years in-between.

A 66- to 24-year ratio means that the stock market has gained in three years for every one down year. The annualised return over that period is 9.6 per cent and the market has gained over 20 per cent in 30 out of those 90 years. Double-digit returns (returns of over 10 per cent) have been experienced in 51 out of the last 90 years.

The year 2017 was one example of those double digit years but if you go back to the narrative at the start of last year it was one which had similar levels of caution and angst as we have at the start of this year.

Last year the S&P 500 was up over 21 per cent and every sector showed a positive return except for energy and telecoms. The take away from that and from the previous five years and ten years where the S&P 500 has been up annually over 15 and eight per cent respectively is that the market is on a very long bull run and it is quite possible that it is nearing the end of that run.

That is not to say that there will not be a continuation of positive returns in 2018. To try to guess the return in any one year is nothing more than throwing darts. What the past 5 and 10 years does say is that expected returns going forward would likely be lower than the returns just experienced however from all of the above statistics you should appreciate that it is better to be in the market than out of it.

Ian Narine

Thrilling times for regional energy sector
...questions Petrotrin’s viability going forward
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Former energy minister:

Declaring it is exciting times for the energy sector, former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said for the first time exploration drilling is going to be occurring simultaneously in deepwater T&T, deepwater Guyana and deepwater Suriname.

Referring to the group as the STTAG (Suriname, T&T and Guyana) region, Ramnarine said a drill ship is operating in T&T for BHP, two drill ships in Guyana for ExxonMobil, and one in Suriname for Kosmos and therefore, the region is poised to be one of the world’s most promising deepwater provinces.

Ramnarine’s projections come on the heels of the 2018 Energy Conference, which carries as its theme this year, “Maximising Value Through Collaboration”. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain between January 22 and 24.

Ramnarine spoke to Business and Money to highlight the highs and lows which he predicts for the energy sector for 2018.


Looking at other aspects of the energy sector, Ramnarine referred to Petrotrin and called for the board to be given autonomy in its decision-making, and for the Government to step back.

“In my tenure as minister, I allowed the board to do their job and I set policy and strategy. I think boards going forward need to be left alone by the government. The board of Petrotrin needs to be given the autonomy and the independence to do the job they were given to do.

“Petrotrin’s production has to increase, but the company does not have the money to drill. The company can only raise capital if the company is only able to convince people it wants to borrow money, and from that they would get returns. Petrotrin is in survival mode and it is in a very fragile state.”

Ramnarine said he expects that Petrotrin and its viability would be a topic of discussion at the conference especially its financial situation concerning the US$850 million bond.

“The bond is a major issue and is due for payment in 2019. Petrotrin would not be in a position to meet that payment so they would have to refinance the bond.

“For the bondholders to agree to the refinancing of the bond, they have to believe that there is a credible plan to make Petrotrin viable again. Otherwise, why would you refinance a bond if you don’t think that the company is going to be viable in the future?”

On the issue of natural gas, Ramnarine suggested that the conference needs to address the issue of the destination of our natural gas.

He explained that T&T will have a situation in 2018 involving making a major decision about whether to extend the life of Atlantic LNG’s Train One plant.

“Train One’s contract comes to an end in 2018. This is why we decided to do a Gas Master Plan in 2015 which was laid in the Parliament.”

Another issue he said was deepwater exploration and BHP Billiton’s effort in this regard for 2018.

“I continue to believe this is T&T’s great hope for its oil production.

“In 2018, we have an exciting exploration being done by Lease Operators Ltd (LOL). This is as a result of a block being awarded to them by the Ministry of Energy in 2014. They are ready to explore.

“I hope it’s a new oil discovery on land which would be the first that we’ve had in 17 years. We could possibly have the first deepwater discovery in 2018, and the first land-based discovery in 17 years within this year.”


ExxonMobil has made six discoveries in two and a half years so far with an inventory of 3.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent, he said.

“We still don’t know the size of the discovery on Ranger 1. We are being told that Ranger 1 is very large. Guyana is going to continue to discover oil.

“There are great opportunities for T&T’s service companies with some of them already capitalising. Ramps Logistics which won the Exporter of the Year award at the Energy Conference last year. They are the main logistics supplier for ExxonMobil in Guyana.”

In 2017, Ramnarine was invited to Guyana to conduct five lectures given his expertise as former energy minister.

He said Guyana is in the midst of doing three things to develop its sector.

“They are passing a Petroleum Commissions bill to create the Petroleum Commission of Guyana, which is different from the Ministry of Energy. It is going to be an independent commission that oversees the oil and gas industry. Also, they have in place, a local content policy and, thirdly, they are establishing a heritage and stabilisation fund.”

He added that Guyana has never had an oil and gas industry and private sector companies are in the process of building port and marine facilities, as well as yards and warehouses along the banks of the Demerara River exiting into the Atlantic Ocean.

Higher oil prices signal optimism for fiscal revenues in 2018
...Nat gas outlook likely to remain muted
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Finance Minister Colm Imbert should be confident that he is likely to receive more revenue from the energy sector than he had initially budgeted with clear signs that crude prices are likely to be sustained over the fiscal year at a price higher than he initially budgeted.

To put this is context, last year T&T produced on average just over 71,000 barrels of oil per day (bo/d) and out of that 71,000 bo/d about 20,000 bo/d is light sweet crude and fetches a price of US$1.50 a barrel more than Brent (an international benchmark to determine light sweet crude prices.). The other 50,000 bo/d averages about US$2 less than West Texas Intermediate Price which is another benchmark used to price crude oil.

In October, Brent crude averaged US $54.92 a barrel.

In November, it increased to US$59.93.

In December, it went to US$61.19.

Keep in mind that the oil produced by Perenco and bpTT off the East Coast of Guayaguayare/Mayaro fetches US$1.50 more than the price of Brent.

These prices are higher than the minister’s budget projections of US$52 a barrel for Brent and therefore mean that the companies have to pay a higher than expected windfall tax or supplemental petroleum tax.

With respect to WTI prices on which about 50,000 bo/d is pegged, the prices have also gone past the US$50 a barrel benchmark for the first quarter in the fiscal year and have risen above US$63.90 as of Tuesday.

Minister Imbert will also be pleased that in its most recent short term energy outlook, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has increased its forecast prices for both Brent and WTI in 2018 with prices also increasing in 2019.

According to the US, EIA it expects Brent prices to average US$60 a barrel and WTI to average US$55.33 in 2018. The report read, “EIA forecasts the Brent crude oil spot price will average $60/b in 2018 and $61/b in 2019. EIA expects global oil inventories to rise by 0.2 million b/d in 2018 and by 0.3 million b/d in 2019. EIA forecasts the expectation of inventory builds in 2018 and 2019 will contribute to crude oil prices declining from current levels to an average of $60/b during the first quarter of 2018. Prices are then expected to remain relatively flat through 2019.”

The EIA noted that most of the upward price movement in recent months reflects continuing draws in global oil inventory levels. It estimates that global petroleum and other liquid fuel inventories fell by an average of 0.4 million b/d in 2017, which was the first year of annual average draws since 2013.

In addition, oil prices were supported by OPEC’s November 30, 2017, announcement to extend its crude oil supply reduction agreement through the end of 2018.

Also, Brent prices increased in December because of a disruption to the North Sea’s Forties crude oil pipeline system early in the month.

The Forties pipeline system is one of the primary distribution networks for Brent crude oil delivery in the North Sea, and its outage curtailed available supply in the near term.

In spite of the bounce in oil prices, 60 per cent of the revenues that come to the government from the energy sector come from natural gas. The news on prices of natural gas is, however, not as good as oil as prices at the US Henry Hub is expected to actually decline slightly this year when compared with 2017.

The EIA noted that even though the US is expected to export more LNG than ever, prices remain low because of the amount of gas being produced from shale in the US.

The report said, “Henry Hub natural gas spot prices are forecast to average $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $2.92/MMBtu in 2019, compared with the 2017 average of $2.99/MMBtu.

“EIA’s forecast for the average Henry Hub price for December 2018 of $3.04/MMBtu should be considered in the context of NYMEX contract values for December 2018 delivery. NYMEX contract values traded during the five-day period ending January 4 suggest that a range of $1.83/MMBtu to $4.89/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for Henry Hub prices in December 2018.”

What would encourage the finance minister is that the cold Northern Hemisphere winter has led to greater demand for heating and electricity giving rise to higher demand and higher prices, and China’s record importation of natural gas in an effort to reduce carbon emission has also given a rise to LNG prices in Asia.

Local natural gas production is also being ramped up and is at its highest for more than 12 months and this should be sustained through 2018.

Dwight Mahabir chief executive officer, Damus Ltd
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Five questions with…

1. The company has been around since 1973 providing mechanical and construction services (among others) across many industrial sectors. How have the demands of these sectors evolved over time?

As a provider of mechanical, construction and maintenance services across T&T and the wider Caribbean, we are most heavily invested in the energy sector, while providing services for mining, utilities and the food and beverage sector as well.

Locally, demand for Damus’ services closely correlates with the development of the energy sector.

Construction of new petrochemical, steel, LNG and power plants and expansions to the Petrotrin refinery created significant demand during the period 1990-2010.

Damus developed significant capacity over this period, providing employment at peak demand to approximately 2,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Demand for construction services fell towards the end of the first decade of the millennium. The last major construction project for our firm was the TGU Power Plant on which Damus was the primary mechanical subcontractor to Ferrostaal of Germany.

At the conclusion of this project in 2013 we were forced to retrench approximately 20 per cent of our permanent work force of 350. Our casual/temporary workforce was reduced from a peak of about 1,600 to around 350.

With limited green-field construction opportunities, brown-field projects and maintenance now constitute a much higher percentage of our revenue streams.

Baseline operations now employ approximately 650 workers which increases to about 1,000 during plant turnarounds. We anticipate demand for our services will increase in the upstream energy sector over the next three to five years as significant investment is anticipated.

Regionally, demand for Damus’ services continues to be reasonable. The discovery of oil and gas in Guyana is expected to increase demand in respect of which our team continues to deliberate on the best market entry strategy.

2. The local energy sector in particular is presently in a bit of a trough. What impact has this had on the Group?

According to a friend, when given lemons make lemonade. Another has said that the industry should not waste a good downturn.

Reduced demand has resulted in increased competition among service companies and created downward pressure on profit margins. We have responded by consolidating synergistic group companies, right-sizing overheads, converting idle assets to cash to reduce debt, increasing operating efficiency, sharpening our bid estimates and adding to our services. We have made lemonade so to speak!

These are really improvements to the way we have operated in the past and will work in our favour as we pursue future opportunities. I have no doubt that others have made similar adjustments which will ultimately redound to the benefit of the entire industry.

In the commercial and residential building construction and retail space we have managed to maintain reasonable growth through 2017.

We are expecting some curtailment in 2018 and have plans to expand into new markets to enable growth.

Unfortunately, two of the group’s companies which derive most of their business from the energy sector have not weathered the storm as well. We have had to cut staff and restructure both organisations.

3. Much has been touted about local service companies expanding across the region, particularly into Guyana as of late. What has been Damus’ experience attempting to and/or doing business in other regional territories?

Damus has significant experience working in the wider Caribbean region including Guyana and Suriname.

Entering any new territory carries with it some inherent risk which should be assessed, understood and managed. As a minimum, local laws on setting up and running a business must be understood and complied with.

The Caribbean region has always been a ready market for services and manufactured goods. Though there is still much to be done, Caricom has made significant strides which create competitive advantages for firms from one member country doing business in another.

Given the size of the Guyana oil discoveries, the infancy of the Guyanese oil industry, Trinidad’s close proximity and shared history and over 100 years of experience in oil and gas there is obviously an opportunity for firms to participate in the Guyana market. Practically, all of our service providers are planning to participate over there.

4. Local content has always been a consideration for the energy sector. Is enough being done to harness local talent across our industrial sectors?

In responding I’d ask these questions:

1. Which of the inputs into the energy sector can local firms realistically provide now or at some time in the future through focused developmental efforts?

2. What percentage of the inputs for which local firms are qualified to provide are actually being provided? If not 100 per cent why? How does this percentage vary with time?

3. What is the roadmap and timeline to develop the capabilities of local firms to provide the inputs identified as achievable through development?

To the best of my knowledge, these questions cannot be comprehensively answered and I am therefore of the view that not enough is being done as regards optimising local participation in the energy sector.

While I acknowledge the efforts being made by the government through the permanent local content committee, the Energy Chamber through its own local content committee, operator companies through their signing of a local content charter aimed at optimising local content, and other stakeholders, I believe the approach to the issue needs to be re-examined.

Broader participation by relevant industry stakeholders which include government, operators, service companies and labour is required with the effort being led by an executive office, funded by the Government and the private sector with the mandate to develop and deliver a sustainable local content model. The ultimate goal must be to produce globally competitive service companies and maximise their participation locally.

5. There is the perception (whether real or imagined) that T&T’s industrial service providers are losing competitiveness. What do you believe needs to be done to change this perception?

There are examples which suggest that our competitiveness and risk profiles are moving in the wrong direction:

Take, for example, Damus’ experience with supplying labour to the Aruba refinery prior to its closure.

Following many years of providing labour we lost the ability to compete with other labour providers from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. The client advised that better worker productivity and lower costs were available from these markets.

The decision taken by an upstream operator to construct its platform in Mexico I understand to have been cost (cheaper in Mexico) and risk (labour interruptions and timeline risk in Trinidad) related.

The decision taken by a plant owner to construct significant modules of their process plant overseas and import these into Trinidad as a more cost effective option.

These examples alone represent millions of manhours and thousands of jobs that have gone to other markets. Loss of productivity must be of concern to all stakeholders. Workers, unions, government and companies must wake up, smell the coffee and take appropriate action.

I see no other way to change this reality.

Deputy Head of News-Business

Tight economy touches education
Minister, school service providers square off over value for money
Thursday, January 18, 2018

All sectors of the economy have been affected by the recession gripping T&T.

The education system has not been left untouched.

The Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE) which caters for tertiary levels students has seen its own set of cutbacks.

At the primary and secondary school levels, for much of 2017, there was controversy surrounding the payments to maxi taxis that transport school children. The school feeding programme has also had problems with financing.

The Education Minister, Anthony Garcia, spoke to Business and Money to shed some light on his vision for the education system in times of less money and also what he is doing in some areas to deal with what he describes as “colossal” waste in the system.

Quality of education

Garcia said that despite the tough economic circumstances that the country finds itself in, the quality of education will not be compromised.

To deal with the inefficiencies in the transportation and school feeding programme, Garcia said the ministry will be engaging the stakeholders to come up with solutions.

In that regard, the ministry formed a committee comprising representatives from the T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), the Parent-Teachers Association, the Principals’ Association of both primary and secondary schools and also a representative from Public Transport Service Association (PTSC).

“Their mandate will be to work out ways and means of bringing efficiency to those programme and report back to us. What we have noticed as well is that in the transport programme, for example, less than 12,000 seats are being utilised on a daily basis yet we are being billed for 34,000. How has that come about? At present, we are conducting our investigations. We are doing an in-depth investigation.”

When asked if any money is owed to the maxi-taxi operators, he said that he is not sure.

“I know some money was made available to them. We made the money payable to PTSC. They (maxi-taxi operators) have to formalise this relationship with PTSC in the form of a contract. Already we have engaged the assistance of our legal department in drawing up a contract between PTSC and ourselves.”

Speaking about the caterers for the school feeding programme, he said that $50 million has been approved for outstanding monies to the caterers.

This fiscal year roughly $7.29 billion was approved for education and training.

When asked if the quality of education in the country has been affected by the country’s economic woes, he gave a resounding no as the answer.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure that the education we deliver is at a very high quality. We know we have to make adjustments and we are going to make the adjustments. However, any money that is expended, there will be value for that money.”

Operators await payment

Rodney Ramlogan, president of the Association of Maxi Taxi School Transport Concessionaires told Business and Money that the Ministry of Education still owes them millions.

“The Minister of Education is saying that the money has been paid. But we want our money.”

He said that there are roughly 350 maxi-taxi operators who provide the service for schools throughout the country.

Ramlogan said the problem of payments is not new and has been going on for many years.

“It has become more rampant as they do not have the money to pay. They keep saying they will make payments but they always have us struggling for money.”

Ramlogan said they are supposed to be paid every two weeks but the money is paid by the Ministry of Education to PTSC which then disburses the money to them.

“We work throughout the term, we do not work on holidays or get paid for the school vacation.”

He also spoke about how their lives are impacted by late payments.

“We have loans to pay, money to pay for diesel and other things. Right now everyone is in arrears because the money is not coming on time.”

He gave a breakdown of how much money maxi-taxi operators make daily for the service they provide to students across the country

For small maxi-taxi operators, daily they earn about $350 to $400. The large maxi taxi earns between $700 to $800 daily.

Ramlogan believes they should earn more.

“If a child goes to school from point A to point B and the child had to take two taxis to go to school, the figure would be between $12 to $14. We are doing this for something like $5.”

Seeking a resolution to the issues confronting the maxi-taxi school transport system, Ramlogan said a letter was sent to the Ministry of Education on January 11, 2018, stating that the association was willing to meet with officials of the PTSC and the Ministry of Education to discuss this and other issues.

The letter was a response to several statements made by the Minister of Education to the media over the last few months.

Excess and wastage

The results of an audit into the school feeding service and transport system revealed wastages.

Garcia had said in early January preliminary figures indicated that in excess of $234 million is spent on school nutrition annually, with 42,933 breakfasts and 65,269 lunches provided daily.

Following a survey of all schools across the country, it was discovered that an excess of 940 breakfasts and 1455 lunches were provided daily—amounting to wastage of $19,154.82 per day. In essence, school feeding service providers were oversupplying breakfast and lunch meals.

Regarding the provision of transportation services, the audit revealed that the PTSC would bill the Ministry for 34,000 seats but less than 50 percent of the seats were being utilised.

The Education Minister made it clear that in the country’s current economic position the Government could not afford to sustain that kind of wastage.

UberTT: Driving between the lines
Thursday, January 18, 2018

UberTT celebrated its first anniversary in this country on Tuesday.

However, its future is uncertain as senior officials of the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) confirmed they are continuing to operate illegally.

Although several attempts to reach regional representatives for Uber proved futile, ministry officials said the main issue continued to reside with local law enforcement as the company is flouting the laws of the land.

Pressed to say how UberTT had been able to enter the market and establish a growing service during the past 12 months, the MOWT official defended the ministry as she stated, “I would not want to say that we allowed them to come in, I am not aware of that.

“To my knowledge, the issue of course surrounds how we treat public transportation in T&T.”

Falling under the ambit of the MOWT, public transport in T&T is offered via the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) along with the hire-car taxi system, for which there are clearly articulated regulations to be followed.

The official stressed, “I am not aware that this is how UberTT operates. UberTT is not operating within those parameters, which are the legal parameters we have in T&T.”

Asked to say which agency or authority UberTT was required to report to, the official answered, “It does not fit in under the MOWT’s ambit.”

The US-based on-demand taxi service which operates in 633 cities worldwide, signalled its intention to establish itself in T&T, in October 2016.

It enables customers to request private drivers through internet applications for iPhone and Android devices.

Shortly after launching in January 2017, the operation encountered its first hurdle after the MOWT pointed out that private-hire taxis were not legal. However, the service continued to operate as law enforcement officials failed to crack-down on individuals registered as UberTT drivers.

UberTT takes on for hire private individuals with vehicles, who are dispatched from nearest the location of the customer making a request through the app.

UberTT masquerading as PH-taxi service

Indicating UberTT’s operations were akin to that of a “PH” car, the MOWT official explained, “In T&T, we have vehicles plying themselves for hire that are not under the ambit which governs registered taxi-drivers.

“It’s not that we give permission for them to operate. They choose to operate but there are legal systems which are supposed to be activated when these drivers are stopped by the police and other law enforcement officials, so I imagine it is the same way with UberTT.”

Acknowledging there was a public demand for the service, the official said it was now up to law-abiding citizens to make the choice to stay within the remit of the law or knowingly step outside.

She sought to impress upon users of the service that the MOWT remained unaware of what type of insurances the UberTT outfit provided—both for the driver and customer.

Users urged to identify risks

As with any service, there are risks involved and the MOWT is urging UberTT to educate themselves about those associated with this.

The official speculated, “If you are a risk-adverse person, you will take a registered taxi. If you are risk-tolerant, you might take something other than a taxi.”

She urged, “As a citizen of T&T, you should seek at all times to obey the laws of the land.” 

“When you go outside of that, you have to ask yourself what am I exposing myself to and based on the risks involved, you would have to make a decision which people sometimes don’t fully understand.”

Revealing that the MOWT’s legal department was still awaiting information pertaining to UberTT’s outfit, the official said, “All that information has not been provided, to date, but the ministry has not changed its position since the start of the operation.”

Another senior MOWT official echoed, “It should be clear that the ministry has not endorsed this and the bottom line remains that it is very much still illegal. Our laws have not changed or been amended to accommodate that.”

Ministry calls for caution

To visitors coming to T&T for Carnival and locals wanting to avoid drinking and driving, the MOWT official said, “We always caution people to take the ultimate safety precautions and especially at this time of the year.”

She continued, “Stay within the parameters of the law.”

Although drivers are required to provide a police certificate of good character when they are applying, this appears to be the only security check individuals are required to undergo before being added to UberTT’s pay-roll.

While there have been mixed reviews emerging in the public domain from users of the service during the last year, officials said they were still in the dark as to the Articles of Incorporation governing UberTT.

Claiming company representatives had been informed of the MOWT’s operating standards during a meeting early last year, officials said they were not left in doubt as to what was required.

The official said for definitive action to be taken, “You have to have vehicle operators willing to come forth and the users of the service also willing to come forth.”

She said there was no particular agency or arm of law enforcement which could actively seek out and rein-in UberTT drivers and users.

About Uber

Since Uber’s 2009 start-up, it has dodged taxi regulations in a number of countries based on its argument that it is an online service provider and not a taxi-cab company.

Prior to commencing operations in T&T last year, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the company followed a pattern in that it entered a country, went to work to establish its name, grew the brand by hiring drivers, quietly withdrawing and continuing operations via the internet.

At the time, he said, “There is no Uber registered in Trinidad that you can go to and get information from.”

This was confirmed as a visit to the local office at Ana Street, Woodbrook failed to unearth any information.

The lone employee indicated regional representatives had to be contacted before any information could be released to the media; a scenario confirmed by the MOWT.

Mixed reviews from drivers and users

While some users described the service as reasonably priced, reliable and safe, there were some who criticised the drivers for being unprofessional while a few others voiced security concerns.

A local celebrity who requested a pick-up in Port-of-Spain was pleasantly surprised when a driver arrived soon after her call.

While the journey to her home in Maraval was uneventful, the woman was horrified to later learn the driver had posted her name and address on Facebook as he boasted of her being one of his fares for the night.

Meanwhile, a well-known attorney who availed herself of the service refused to complete the transaction after the driver arrived with a male friend in tow.

The above accounts vary from that of a southerner who was elated to learn the driver was a friend who was operating part-time in order to supplement his monthly income.

The Gasparillo resident said, “It was cost effective and quick. I got picked up at my door and went straight to my destination. I could track our movements on my phone. The driver was also cordial and he made sure I was comfortable.”

A 29-year-old Caroni man who signed on as a driver reported having to produce a valid police certificate of character.

However, he said beyond this, there were no security or safety checks conducted into his background.

Asked about salary payments, he said UberTT received 25 per cent of the total fare with the driver receiving the remaining 75 per cent.

He explained, “The salary is determined by the number of trips you make and based on time and distance. It is paid every Thursday via direct deposit to your bank of choice.”

The law states:

Chapter 48:50, Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act states, “No person shall drive on any road, a taxi registered as such, unless he is the holder of a taxi-driver’s license issued to him by the Licensing Authority under these regulations”.

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