Taxi operators, drivers taking precautions

As members of the public increasingly taske taxis to avoid crowded buses amidst the measles epidemic, drivers are taking precautions of their own by wearing face masks. 

The Sign Studio taxi stand owner, 57-year-old Sooalo Sifuiva Esau, told the Samoa Observer that it has been a slow day for business and he is blaming the measles epidemic for the slowdown.

He said drivers employed by his company have been instructed to wear their face masks.

“Now every business that I know is having a slow earning of income, because there are not many people who are coming to town because of the measles,” he said. 

“For our taxi drivers I always advise them to make sure that they wear a face mask to protect themselves from the measles when they are taking a passenger.”

The owner of the ‘I love Samoa’ taxi stand, 38-year-old Pelenatete Mase, echoed similar sentiments on the need for their taxi drivers to wear face masks and take precautions.

“I advise all the taxi drivers for safety first by wearing their face masks and use their personal skills to protect themselves from getting affected,” she added.

Revenue generated by her taxis has also increased, which she said could be an indication of more people opting for a taxi instead of a public bus. 

“From the money the drivers are bringing back, I think more people are using taxis to get away from public areas faster instead of buses,” she added. 

But taxi drivers Fata Solomon, Taavao Pili and Tuai Tupuola say this time of the year would be a peak period for them with school graduations and prize-giving ceremonies. 

But they have had less number of passengers in recent weeks and are blaming the dwindling customer numbers on the measles outbreak.

Mr Solomon, who is based at the Vaitele Pure taxi stand, said: “There is a difference this time as we are not busy like we used to when it comes to the special days, and also the money that we earn is not similar like before.”

The drop in the number of adults and children travelling to town for shopping is also noticeable at this time of the year, according to Mr Pili.

He said all taxi drivers are worried at the impact of the measles epidemic on themselves and the risks of infecting their families. 

“Back than when it’s special days we see lots of people come to do their shopping with their kids, and also come in big numbers,” he said. “We are now very extra careful when we do our job because of the measles that is spreading in the country and we are using face masks to protect ourselves.”

For Mr Tupuola, who drives for the 777s taxi stand, he said the drop in their customer numbers is due to people staying home to avoid infection. 

“I think the reason why there is not much people is because they are staying home as a prevention measure to avoid getting infected with measles,” he said.

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