SINGAPORE – ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi operator here, is waiving rental for all its drivers for one month – a first for the company.
In a statement, ComfortDelGro said cabbies need not worry about getting enough fares come next Tuesday (April 7), when elevated safe distancing measures are in place.
“This is because all taxi rental will be waived from then till May 5, 2020,” it said.
The unprecedented move follows the announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that all non-essential work physical workplaces and schools are to close during that period to stem the spread of Covid-19.
ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said: “With the closure of non-essential workplaces and schools, our cabbies are going to find it even more difficult to make ends meet. With the full rental waiver, any fare they pick up will go straight to their pockets. We hope that this will help them tide over this incredibly difficult period.
“We want them to know that we are in this with them and we can pull through this together.”
The full rental waiver is expected to cost the company an additional $19 million. It works out to around $1,700 per month of rental for each taxi based on reduced rates introduced since February.
For the four-week period, the full rental waiver supersedes the earlier announced extension of daily rental relief. That relief package, which will run till September, will kick back in after May 5. Together, the total relief package for ComfortDelGro cabbies is expected to cost up to $99 million, it said.
Other taxi operators are expected to offer similar aid to their cabbies.
Taxi drivers have reported earnings plunging by 50 to 60 per cent since the pandemic struck Singapore in January. For the past month, long lines of taxis could be seen at various taxi stands across the island.
Some 14 per cent of the taxi fleet is unhired and sitting idle without drivers, representing about 2,600 vehicles.