ComfortDelGro raises taxi rental waiver to 50% amid heightened alert restrictions

Taxi drivers and private-hire drivers reported a drop in earnings after the new restrictions kicked in. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - From Tuesday (May 18) to June 13, ComfortDelGro cabbies will pay half the usual rental rates as Singapore's largest taxi operator looks to cushion the blow of the latest Covid-19 restrictions on its drivers.

Taxi drivers and private-hire drivers reported a drop in earnings after the new restrictions kicked in on Sunday (May 16), and saw further declines since the start of the week.

ComfortDelGro expects taxi demand to fall quite significantly during this period of heightened alert, its group chief branding and communications officer Tammy Tan told The Straits Times.

That is why it raised the daily taxi rental waiver to 50 per cent per taxi, up from 20 per cent previously.

This is in addition to the Government's Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) that kicked in at the start of the year and will last till June. Eligible drivers received a monthly payout of $600 per vehicle for three months between January and March from the fund, and have been receiving $450 per vehicle per month since April.

To assist cabbies further, ComfortDelGro will also continue to waive call levies till June 30, Ms Tan said.

According to messages from the firm to its cabbies that were posted on social media, the firm raised the rental waiver several times after the restrictions were announced last Friday - from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, and then to 20 per cent.

Last year, ComfortDelGro had fully waived rental fees for its drivers for two months during the circuit breaker period, before lowering it to 50 per cent, and then 20 per cent as at December last year.

Under the new heightened alert restrictions, people are allowed to be out in groups of only two. Dining out is not allowed and working from home is once again the default. Taxis and private-hire vehicles can ferry only two passengers at a time, unless the passengers are from the same household.

In a Facebook post on Monday (May 17), National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) director Yeo Wan Ling said the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association have been in "deep talks" with the Ministry of Transport, the Land Transport Authority, taxi operators and ride-hailing platforms, on support measures for drivers during the heightened alert period.

Ms Yeo said the union met with Transport Minister S. Iswaran, as well as Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor on Monday about enhanced financial support and a possible extension of the CDRF.

Other possible measures raised at the meeting include extending grace periods in Housing Board carparks, and keeping Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rates on arterial roads including those within the Central Business District at $0, she said.

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