Taxi drivers want promised COVID stimulus package

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Taxi drivers want promised COVID stimulus package

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) has expressed concern that its members have yet to receive the promised COVID-19 economic stimulus assistance.

“We would like to know when this grant will be given to us, as other sectors have already received their promised amount,” JATOO said in a statement last night.

The association said the economic stimulus package, which was announced in March, should have PPV licensed operators receiving $25,000 for all those applying before June 30, 2020.

According to JATOO, a majority of the estimated 34,000 licensed owners, which includes JATOO members, applied before the expiration date. However, as of August 1, 2020 they have not received payment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is and continues to be a devastating financial blow to all transport operators,” the statement read.

“All operators supported the Government's announcement of one less passenger to a five-seater car. This was an immediate 25 per cent reduction in our income. We accepted the loss of revenue in light of the national crisis and in an era of not having a justifiable fare increase since 2013,” it added.

JATOO said even with the return of normal operations, a JATOO survey showed an average of 60 per cent reduction in ridership in the hackney operation.

According to the organisation this resulted from:
• Reduced operations in businesses in the Kingston metropolitan transport region and other major towns.
• The closing of educational institutions and their allied businesses.
• The increase in the work-from-home environment.

“We have seen a more managed approach to the crisis and would like to prepare ourselves for any increase in ridership that may result from this approach,” it said.

“An early payment to us would be a great advantage at this time, especially before the opening of the school year, [while we're] still facing a government refusal to give a fare increase or reduce our cost of operation,” the statement noted.

JATOO said it is calling for the package to PPV operators to be expedited so that, “those of us who are still in business will not sink further into the financial collapse experienced by some of our colleagues.”

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