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Covid-19 outbreak: Govt, firms launch S$77 million package to help taxi, private-hire drivers

SINGAPORE — A S$77 million Point-to-Point Support Package to help taxi and private-hire car operators affected by the Covid-19 outbreak was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Thursday (Feb 13).

Covid-19 outbreak: Govt, firms launch S$77 million package to help taxi, private-hire drivers

SINGAPORE — A S$77 million Point-to-Point Support Package to help taxi and private-hire car operators affected by the Covid-19 outbreak was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Thursday (Feb 13).

The Government will contribute S$45 million towards the package, with the remaining contributed by taxi and private-hire car operators.

"The Government recognises that there is an urgent need for targeted assistance to drivers," LTA and MOT said in a press release.

The package has multiple components. The largest portion is a S$73 million Special Relief Fund that will help active full-time taxi and private-hire car drivers defray business costs, comprising of S$41 million in Government contributions and S$32 million from operators.

"The drivers in the point-to-point industry, the taxi drivers as well as the private-hire car drivers, do describe a significant reduction in the number of trips they're able to make per day," said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary.

"Some of our data suggests that it's 10 per cent. But I think there may be some lag, and the drivers that I've spoken to today, the numbers that they're showing me on the apps in terms of the rides they have logged over the last couple of days suggest a larger change."

About 40,000 eligible drivers will receive up to S$20 per vehicle per day for three months, contributed equally by the Government and operators.

"(For the S$20), we took reference from the type of assistance that we provided during Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), adjusting for inflation changes and cost of the rent," said Dr Puthucheary.

"This is about a 60 per cent increase from the assistance that was delivered by Government to the industry for Sars. And it's a reasonable number and also one that the operators can now match. And I think that has been some of the considerations for S$10 per day from Government, S$10 per day from the operators."

Eligible taxi hirers will automatically receive the special relief through their taxi operators starting from Friday, while private-hire car drivers have to apply through their companies.

Private-hire car operators Grab and Gojek will provide application and disbursement details to their drivers within the next week, LTA and MOT said.

The companies that will be contributing to the package are taxi operators Comfort, CityCab, SMRT Taxis, Trans-Cab, Premier Taxis, Prime and HDT Taxi, along with Grab and Gojek.

Active drivers who do not qualify for the Special Relief Fund can still benefit from financial assistance by applying for the Government & NTUC Driver Care Fund. The Government will contribute S$2.7 million towards the fund, with trade union NTUC administering it over the next three months.

The National Private Hire Vehicles Association and the National Taxi Association said in a joint statement on Thursday that the announcement was much-welcomed by drivers.

“As drivers struggle with business costs and drop in earnings, the Special Relief Fund will provide some financial relief for them,” the two associations said.

“For drivers who are not eligible, NTUC will assist to administer the Government & NTUC Driver Care Fund. NTUC will provide more details on application details.”

The two associations said they will also be working with NTUC to introduce a support package to help eligible union members who are affected by the outbreak. More details will be shared in due course.

LTA will waive three months of operator licence fees, totalling about S$1.3 million. The authority will also delay the implementation of the upcoming Street-hail Service Operator Licence and Ride-hail Service Operator Licence.

The scheme will take effect from September 2020, instead of June.

"We appreciate that the point-to-point operators have leaned forward to support their drivers during this difficult period, even as their businesses are also affected," said LTA and MOT.

"This will allow point-to-point operators to focus their efforts on assisting drivers as well as addressing business and operational challenges during this period." CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna.asia.

Related topics

Wuhan virus Covid-19 coronavirus LTA transport

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