About 43 taxi and private-hire car drivers have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 as of June this year, and in six instances, the drivers could have infected their household members, said Transport Minister S. Iswaran in a written reply to Parliamentary questions on Monday (5 July).
Mr Iswaran was responding to questions posed by Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong GRC Dr Tan Wu Meng, who asked the number of taxi and private-hire car drivers that were infected with the virus, and the number of instances where their household members get infected too.
Dr Tan also questioned the Ministry on the income and welfare support provided to help affected drivers.
In response, Mr Iswaran said that the infected drivers make up fewer than 0.1 per cent of active private-hire car and taxi drivers.
“We do not have data on the duration away from work and income loss for the median and 90th percentile COVID-19-positive taxi and PHC driver.
“These outcomes would vary significantly across individuals, and would depend on factors such as individuals’ physical health, working hours, vehicle type and ridership demand, which in turn is affected by prevailing safe management measures,” said the Minister.
He noted that drivers who contract COVID-19 in the course of duty will receive financial support, such as additional rental waivers and allowances from the National Taxi Association (NTA), National Private Hire Vehicles Association, and operators.
In addition, drivers who contract the virus while serving in situations of heightened COVID-19 risk may also apply for one-time relief of S$3,000 through The Courage Fund, which is administered by the National Council of Social Service.
Meanwhile, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Ng Ling Ling asked whether the Government can provide income assurance should drivers get infected with the virus during their course of ferrying frontline workers to cover their income loss amid recovery and quarantine period.
Mr Iswaran replied that protecting taxi and private hire car drivers in the course of duty are the Government’s “first priority”, hence those who depend on driving for their livelihoods were prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Drivers do receive support if they are quarantined or contract COVID-19 in the course of duty,” he said.
According to the Minister, drivers who have been served quarantine orders can apply for a S$100 per day allowance under the Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme, which is administered by the Ministry of Health.
Mr Iswaran said the Government has also been providing active taxi and private-hire car drivers with COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) payouts to sustain their livelihoods as they continue to serve commuters, on top of the recent extension of the CDRF to September this year.
“Taxi and PHC operators have also reminded their drivers to take additional precautions to protect their health and safety.
“These include stepping up the cleaning and disinfection of their vehicles, not using the recirculation mode of their vehicle’s air-conditioning system, and to wind down their windows after every trip to improve ventilation within their vehicles,” he added.