Private-hire car and taxi drivers to get help beyond expiry of relief fund: Amy Khor

SINGAPORE – Private-hire car and taxi drivers will get some form of additional help even after a Covid-19 support measure to help them defray costs expires this month.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Sept 12) that the Transport Ministry is working on a package of measures to continue to help the point-to-point transport sector.

Dr Khor said drivers had been voicing concerns about the impending expiry of the support measures during her meetings with them and operators in the last three weeks.

“Some had also asked if we could help to safeguard the livelihoods of older drivers who are more reliant on taxi or private-hire car driving,” she said.

“We will take into consideration the feedback and suggestions received during our interactions and will announce this package soon.”

Gojek said it welcomes the prospect of extended support, adding this would alleviate some of the pressures faced by its drivers. Its management and drivers met Dr Khor recently.

The Government had earlier this year announced two point-to-point support packages to help drivers amid plummeting demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than $216 million in total was pumped in to help the sector, after taking into account what operators contributed as well.

The Special Relief Fund was set up as part of the support measures. Through this fund, taxi and private-hire car drivers are able to get relief of $300 per vehicle per month till end-September.

Separately, the drivers have also been able to tap the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which provides eligible self-employed persons with $1,000 per month for nine months.

The earnings of both taxi and private-hire car drivers have dropped as compared to before Covid-19, following a stop in tourists coming in and other changes such as a push towards telecommuting. Their earnings were hardest hit during the circuit breaker period between April and June, when most of Singapore stayed home.

But the situation has since improved for the drivers and operators as Singapore gradually opens up with the improving Covid-19 situation.

A Grab spokesman said: “We’ve seen more people moving around Singapore and booking rides since the start of Phase 2.

“Our driver-partners are also taking more transport jobs. In addition, many continue to take on delivery jobs on our GrabFood, GrabMart and GrabExpress platforms, which provided them with more earning opportunities.”

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