Taxi operators at the Moi International Airport (MIA) in Mombasa contend they are left desperate by the novel covid-19 lockdown.
They said three months into the ban on international and domestic flights in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus they have been left without business.
Peter Wambugu, the Chairman of the joint airport taxi operators said operators have had to give up work altogether due to lack of business.
Wambugu, a veteran taxi driver said the taxi industry in the coastal city is ‘big time casualty’ of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We used to shuttle between the busy airport and the tourist hotels dotting the beaches but these days no one out there is in need of a ride,” he quipped on Tuesday, adding that the global health emergency has brought an abrupt end to the good times.
The taxi operator’s representative said they want the government to consider helping them out of the problem of joblessness and loss of income occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic.
He said the worldwide health pandemic has dealt a blow to their business and devastated them.
“We are not classified as essential workers and we have been left to our own devices but we appeal to the county and national governments to remember us during these hard times,” he said adding that they are faced with a life and death situation.
David Gakuo Chairman of the Airport Sacco said many are now in danger of becoming destitute because of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
He said many have stopped working since the restrictions were announced and were unable to feed their families.
Gakuo expressed disappointments that there is no help forthcoming for taxi drivers and called for support and assistance from the county and national government.
He said they will appreciate whatever help they will get to overcome their current predicaments now that ‘our taxi industry is practically shut down’.
Gakuo lamented that the global pandemic has dealt a blow to the cabbies which were in recent years facing stiff competition from the ride-hail services like Uber and Taxify.
They said so far there have not been any reports of covid-19 deaths among taxi drivers in the coastal county but the virus is a big concern to them.
The Changamwe MP, Omar Mwinyi has started distributing food hampers to the taxi drivers who operate in his constituency where the Moi international airport is located, saying they were hard hit by the coronavirus restrictions.
The MP said they need assistance from government and non-governmental organisations to help cushion them from the adverse effects of the virus.
He distributed maize and wheat flour, rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, and tea leaves to taxi drivers at the Ahmed Mwidani Technical Training Institute as a social assistance response to the covid-19.
By Hussein Abdullahi