By Sheela Chandran | MALAYSIA |
Taxi driver Pall Singh has seen a 95% drop in business in the last month, since the movement control order was enforced on March 18.
“I’d be lucky if I have one passenger a week,” says Pall, 59. “Every day, I drive around Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya and pray that I can get at least one passenger. I also wait at designated taxi stops. But sadly, there are not any passengers.”
Before the restriction on movement, Pall would typically make four trips a week to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Although this meant working for longer hours, he did not mind as it allowed him and his family to live comfortably with the RM2,000 to RM3,000 he would earn a month.
Now, with the drastic loss of income, Pall admits that he is struggling to make ends meet. As the sole breadwinner for his family of four, he has been having sleepless nights worrying about his finances. How will he put food on the table, pay his housing loan, car installments, groceries, and other miscellaneous bills.
“I also miss the drives to the airport, being able to talk to passengers en route to and from KLIA. These days, there’s always a fear that the person next to you might have Covid-19,” says Pall, a retired physical training instructor with the Royal Malaysian Airforce who has been driving his taxi for 15 years.
As an essential service worker, Pall is well aware about the dangers of picking up passengers. To stay safe, he uses a mask and disinfects his car whenever a passenger steps out of his vehicle.
Pall has already used up the RM600 he received from the government’s Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat aid. His wife, homemaker Kuljit Kaur, 54, has also received RM1,000 under the scheme.
Read the full story, ‘Labour Day: Nobody is hailing taxis now, says struggling taxi driver Pall Singh’ (The Star, 1 May 2020), here.
NZ Sikhs feed 15k families over past fortnight (Asia Samachar, 27 April 2020)