Additional $30 million financial support for taxi and private-hire car drivers to cope with Covid-19 restrictions

Drivers will receive the payouts through the taxi and private-hire car companies, and there is no need to make an application. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Taxi and private-hire car drivers will get additional financial support till end-September to help ease the impact of the latest set of tightened Covid-19 restrictions.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Friday (July 23) that drivers will get an additional $10 per vehicle per day from July 22 to Aug 31. This will then be reduced to $5 per day in September.

The Government is funding these measures by providing an additional $30 million to enhance the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund.

Eligible drivers will receive the payouts through the taxi and private-hire car companies, and there is no need to make an application.

The latest round of support measures doubles the payouts that drivers are currently receiving.

Under an earlier round of measures in June, drivers were to get $10 per vehicle per day for 60 days from this month and $5 per vehicle per day in September.

LTA said a total of $482 million had been set aside to support the taxi and private-hire car sectors since February last year.

Explaining the additional support, it said taxi and private-hire car ridership is expected to decline significantly with Singapore entering the phase two (heightened alert) period from July 22 to Aug 18.

"Based on the experience from the last phase two (heightened alert) period from May 16 to June 13, ridership will take time to recover after the relaxation of measures," said LTA.

"LTA will work with the taxi and private-hire car operators to implement the latest Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund enhancement over the next two weeks, and operators will inform drivers of disbursement details in due course."

Transport Minister S. Iswaran said in a Facebook post that during the previous phase two (heightened alert) period - which was between May 16 and June 13 this year - ridership dropped to about 55 per cent of the levels before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thus, drivers need "urgent targeted assistance" to tide over this period, he said. He added that about 50,000 drivers will benefit from the increased payouts.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor noted that many drivers have left the industry since the pandemic started.

"I hope this enhanced package will help our drivers tide through this rough patch and continue to serve commuters," she said.

Grab driver William Lim, 44, said drivers have experienced a drastic drop in their income after the heightened alert measures kicked in on Thursday.

Mr Lim, who has been ferrying people to quarantine hotels the past two days, said some drivers have been able to earn only about $80 after driving for 10 hours.

This would mean losses for most, after deducting petrol and rental costs. Prior to the tightened measures, drivers could earn around $200 to $300 daily, Mr Lim added.

"We hope for more help if possible. The additional support can help to cover our own expenses, but we will still need to support our family members as well," said Mr Lim, who is supporting his fiancee in China.

On Thursday, LTA said that drivers who are served quarantine orders after coming into close contact with individuals infected with Covid-19 will continue to receive help from the Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme by the Health Ministry.

Operators, as well as the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association will also continue to provide their own relief packages to affected drivers, said LTA.

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