A mixed start for cabby and food delivery rider in 2022, even as Singapore economy recovers

Cabby Steven Chua receiving a gift bag from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outside Jurong Point on Jan 31, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - As Singapore's economy continues its recovery from the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, gig workers like cabby Steven Chua and food delivery rider Raymond Tan are at a crossroads.

While Mr Chua, 55, believes his fortunes will improve after two years of severe impact on his income due to pandemic restrictions, Mr Tan, 38, said he is worried about his livelihood going into 2022 as his delivery orders are down.

Mr Chua, a cabby for 17 years, said business is much better this year compared with 2021, even though his earnings are still 20 per cent to 30 per cent lower compared with pre-pandemic levels, due to a lack of tourists and many Singaporeans still working from home.

"We hope more vaccinated travel lanes can open so that we can look forward to more tourists coming into Singapore," he said on Monday (Jan 31).

Mr Chua, who is general secretary of the National Taxi Association, was speaking to reporters after he met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was visiting Jurong Point shopping mall on Chinese New Year's Eve to thank cabbies, food delivery riders and mall workers for providing essential services during the festive period.

Mr Tan, who has been delivering food for nine years, was also among those who managed to speak to the Prime Minister during the visit.

He said business was good early on in the pandemic as everyone was stuck at home, so the number of deliveries he was making shot up. But after Singapore started relaxing its Covid-19 measures, his volume of delivery orders started to wane.

"There is a drop of about 75 per cent compared with two years ago," said Mr Tan.

"I'm worried, to be honest, because we don't know whether delivery platforms can be sustained over the next five to 10 years."

Asked about the advisory committee that has been set up to explore ways to better protect platform workers, Mr Tan said some of the measures mooted, such as work injury compensation insurance, should have been implemented sooner.

PM Lee was on Monday accompanied by Mrs Lee, Transport Minister S. Iswaran and Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor, as well as National Trades Union Congress president Mary Liew and secretary-general Ng Chee Meng.

Speaking to the media, Mr Ng said he is relieved that the economy is recovering and livelihoods are improving. "In the way ahead, we hope to be able to assist our drivers, our delivery riders... especially where there are areas where we can improve on."

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