Taxi drivers in Windhoek are concerned that their daily income dropped by as much as 60% during the past months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to drivers, their income depends on the movement of people in the city and the reduced economic activity brought about by the virus lockdown resulted in making ends meet become quite difficult.
Komboro Hambira, one of the taxi drivers in Windhoek, said the pandemic left a huge gap in the industry after government implemented restrictions of transporting only three people in a four-seater vehicle, as well as the current curfew that runs from 05h00 to 20h00 every day. Hambira bemoaned the fact that most employees in the formal sector do not only enjoy the luxury of receiving their paychecks at the end of the month but many are happy to be working from home.
“They say we must stay indoors and avoid going to public places to help prevent the virus but for us, taxi drivers, we will not be able to sit at home because our source of income comes from moving around. How will I run my house?” asked a frustrated Hambira.
According to him, his daily income has more than halved ever since the pandemic broke out in Windhoek. “I was making between N$700 and N$1 000 a day when approaching month-end. That’s now if you are not driving for someone else. And now I am earning around N$400 a day. There are no enough passengers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Windhoek continues to report the highest number of positive cases of Covid-19 in the country. The government has advised people to adopt social distancing, urging large companies to allow employees to work from home.
“Fewer people going to work means lesser demand for taxis,” an anonymous taxi driver said, adding that he understands the situation, and he requested the traffic officers to give a break on previous tickets – write them off and start a new life until the virus nightmare is over.
“This is time for [the] impossible; we should all benefit,” said the driver.
He further urged residents to take all precautionary measures that are in place to save their lives: “This thing is not in our control, so it’s for us to take care of ourselves and go with what President Geingob is requiring. Let’s just obey the rules because it’s for our wellbeing”.
Drivers added they are taking all necessary precautions but have limited control over the passengers sitting in their vehicles. They said they can wear masks and wash taxis with disinfectant but warned that is not enough to prevent the virus.
“We should fight the pandemic together and not be reckless when using public transport,” said another taxi driver.