When the going gets tough, the tough gets going – with a little help from a relief fund.
Private hire vehicle drivers, and taxi drivers like Mr Ho Seng Huat who continue to be financially impacted by the pandemic can look forward to a more generous relief fund next year, LTA said in a news release.
Called the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF), it replaces the current Special Relief Fund (SRF).
Since the pandemic brought tourism to a standstill, Mr Ho has been ferrying a different kind of passengers. Bags of food and pizzas. In his 27 years as a taxi driver, this is the first time he has had to deliver food to supplement his income.
Previously, he could complete between 18 and 20 rides a day on average. Then came the Circuit Breaker and people started working from home and cancelling their plans to go out. He said he was lucky to get five passengers in a day.
Fortunately there is help from the Government.
Support available since February 2020
Since February 2020, the Government has provided support to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers through the SRF which pays $300 per vehicle per month.
As part of the Resilience Budget, eligible drivers also received payouts of $3000 in May, July and October 2020 under the Self-employed Income Relief Fund (SIRS).
While the COVID-19 situation in Singapore is improving, taxi and PHV ridership remains lower than pre-COVID levels. Two reasons for this. Tourism remains muted with air travel literally at a standstill. More people are still working from home. According to LTA, COVID-19 has also changed commuting patterns with shorter taxi and PHV trips. This results in lower fares per trip.
As the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will cease from 1 Jan 2021, a more generous COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) will replace the current Special Relief Fund (SRF) for taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers to moderate the impact on drivers.
COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund
The new CDRF scheme will cost an additional $133 million. This is on top of the $55 million committed towards the SRF.
Drivers will receive:
- $600 a month from January 2021 to March 2021
- $450 a month from April 2021 to June 2021
Existing drivers who are eligible for the SRF need not apply for the COVID-19 Recovery Fund. They will be automatically transitioned to the CDRF from January 2021.
Active taxi and private hire vehicle drivers who receive the CDRF payouts will not be eligible for the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG). Those who do not qualify for the CDRF may apply for the CRG if they meet its eligibility criteria.
COVID-19 : Low prevalence rate in the community
More than 10,000 taxi and private-hire drivers who took the voluntary COVID-19 tests in September tested negative for disease. The test were conducted between Sep 8 and 22 at temporary swab sites such as taxi depots and regional screening centres.
For Mr Ho, he is also cherishing the time he has at home with his family.
“Last time, I would drive for about 12 hours each day, sometimes late into the night, and rarely saw my family. But now, I get to spend more time with them, have conversations, and even get to eat home-cooked meals!”