Education Minister Anthony Garcia says the salaries owed to school maxi taxi drivers have already been processed and he was hoping that they will be paid before Christmas.
Garcia was responding to comments from the Association of Maxi Taxi School Transport Concessionaires president Rodney Ramlogan that they were finding it hard to make ends meet because they received no salary for the past four months.
However, Garcia said he investigated the complaints and was told that the invoices for the school maxi taxi drivers were only submitted last week.
"It is totally not the fault of the Ministry even though we get the blame. The September invoices were only submitted last week and we mobilized our resources and got all the invoices processed and approved in one day," Garcia said. He added that the Ministry was trying to see whether the salaries for September could be paid before Christmas.
The invoices submitted by the maxi taxi drivers are usually sent to the Public Service Transport Corporation before being submitted to the Ministry for payment.
Garcia said he was not sure whether the drivers submitted their invoices late or whether PTSC did not review and submit the documents to the Ministry on time.
On Tuesday, Association of Maxi Taxi School Transport Concessionaires president Rodney Ramlogan said their last salary was in July.
He said drivers were 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.
He noted that PTSC issued a student data form to be submitted with returns and it refused to process payments without these forms being completed and submitted.
"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.
He said if the payments are not made for the past four months, parents will be faced with the very real prospect of having no school transportation services from January 2019. Efforts to contact PTSC's Acting general manager Davis Ragoonanan proved futile as calls to his office went unanswered.
Last year the drivers staged several rounds of protests over delays in payments.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva