Forum: Taxi drivers need more protection from Covid-19

My father is a 74-year-old taxi driver. Since phase two of Singapore's reopening started, he has gone back to working as a relief driver with ComfortDelGro.

My family worries for his health every day and advises him to wear a mask constantly when driving, as well as to take breaks between rides and remove his mask to breathe freely.

Recently, a woman passenger took off her mask as soon as she boarded the taxi, saying she wanted to breathe normally. When my father tried to persuade her to put on her mask, she got upset and shouted at him.

My uncle is also a taxi driver. He was recently given a quarantine order because he happened to pick up a passenger who was later confirmed to have Covid-19.

These episodes show that taxi drivers are at risk each day they are out there driving, especially if there are passengers like the one my father picked up who refused to keep her mask on.

Many taxi drivers are like my father and uncle - elderly and especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

I do not recall any signs inside taxis or private-hire cars telling passengers to keep their masks on. It is taken for granted that people will comply with this general rule, but clearly this is not the case.

I urge the Ministry of Health to issue a stern reminder on the wearing of masks when inside taxis or private-hire cars.

In cases where passengers remain defiant despite being told to wear their masks, drivers should have the right to force them to alight or to take them to the police station.

This is to safeguard the lives of taxi drivers.

I do not think taxi drivers should stop working just because of a few inconsiderate people.

I believe that if passengers can do their part by not going out if they feel unwell, keeping their masks on and sanitising their hands before passing their cards or cash to drivers, the risk of infection will be low.

Companies like ComfortDelGro should put up signs inside the taxis advising passengers to keep their masks on throughout their journeys. Passengers should also have access to hand sanitiser inside the vehicles.

Ong Ching Ching

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