The Government of Grenada will examine the possibility of providing additional relief support to the nation’s taxi drivers, a category of persons particularly hard-hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a meeting on Wednesday with the Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable, Keith Mitchell and two of his Cabinet colleagues, executive members of the Grenada Taxi Association appealed for Government’s support as they struggle to survive. The appeal was not simply for a handout but for meaningful ways to help protect livelihoods such as a moratorium from lending institutions and concessions for the purchase of buses to provide public transportation.
The majority of taxi drivers have been without income since the pandemic reached our shores in March last year, halting cruise ship operations and significantly slowing stayover arrivals.
Speaking on behalf of members, president of the taxi association Cosmos Williams said, “It is tough; we are looking for help in any form. We are grateful for the stimulus package we received but it has been almost a year that we have been without any real income. A few of us have options like I’m doing some farming, but the majority of members do not have an alternative source of income. I think it is unfair that some people should be seeking increases at a time when so many others do not even have a source of income.”
Williams also suggested that Government be pragmatic in its approach when the cruise ship industry resumes operations, to ensure that the country remains a competitive and attractive destination.
In response, the Prime Minister acknowledged the plight of taxi drivers and many others who have been without any income for several months and welcomed the various suggestions made.
Dr Mitchell said, “My advice is that you compile the various suggestions for how Government can assist and share these with the Minister of Finance who will arrange a meeting with you next week. Following that, recommendations can be made to Cabinet on what Government can actually do to help. Remember too, Government has its own challenges with a significant reduction in revenue but we also have a fundamental responsibility to help the people and that is what we try to do.”
The Prime Minister also commended the taxi drivers for their nationalistic approach, not simply demanding assistance but being willing to explore ways to work together to achieve a common objective.
He said, “That is the kind of approach we would like to see other organisations take in addressing matters. This is not simply about a particular Government or group of persons; this is about our future, our country, our economy; so much is at stake. Economies are being destroyed all over the world therefore we must work together to find solutions that will benefit all. The reality is, while some are receiving salaries and allowances every month, others do not have a single cent coming in. Government is prepared to examine all possibilities but in seeking solutions, we must think of our brothers and sisters who are also struggling.”
The Prime Minister expressed optimism that we will soon see an uptick in economic activity as the Covid-19 vaccines become more available and world travel resumes in earnest and life returns to some sense of normalcy.
Finance Minister, Honourable Gregory Bowen and Minister of Tourism, Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen also attended the meeting with the taxi drivers.