Taxi drivers in Cyprus are seeing their livelihood evaporating as the holiday island is all but shut down to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
And without being eligible for any state allowance and bleak prospects for the upcoming summer season they are crying out for help.
“The job volume’s recorded decrease is vast, almost 100%,” Vasilis Yiotis who represents urban taxi drivers in Nicosia told Phileleftheros.
“We are law-abiding, we take all necessary precautions, our offices and cabs are constantly disinfected,” he added.
Nonetheless, out of the 406 licensed taxis in Nicosia only about 20 are currently in circulation. And office staff are also at a minimum level with customer calls answered from personal phones of taxi drivers working in rotation.
But the biggest problem for the taxi industry is revenue from tourism which is expected to be close to zero this year.
“My personal view is that there will be no tourism this year. Charter flights would normally start in March. And even if airports do open soon, the need will be commercial not tourism-related. Not to mention that our tourism is basically from countries hit the worst from coronavirus,” he added.
As for the taxi industry and government measures aiming to boost the economy, Yiotis said the special allowance for self-employed is not enough to cover their needs.
“We feel trapped. They have not suspended our operation on purpose and we find it offensive. We could easily get infected, most of us are self-employed yet they left us hanging there,” he added.
The special allowance for self-employed does not cover personal and operational needs, he also said.
By Marios Roussos