Rural taxi services struggle in lockdown

Taxi services in rural areas are facing financial struggles due to limited passengers and the total drop-off in tourist numbers during the coronavirus lockdown and closing of national borders. 

The owner of the Welcome to Paradise taxi service has expressed his frustration about not having enough business. 

According to Fatu Misa, everything was fine before the global pandemic.

“We have 28 taxis operating and the income we have received so far, ever since the lockdown has been decreasing,” he added.

The 38-year-old from Lefaga highlighted that before the lockdown, each taxi driver normally gets around $300 a week.

“But now we hardly have passengers. Our passengers were mostly villagers but tourists were our favourite customers because going to town we charge more than $50," he said. 

“During the time when buses were not allowed to travel, we did benefit for a while but after the ban was lifted it became hard to find.

“Additionally, it is more expensive to travel by taxi then buses. It has been six years since we started operations and the main reason why we established was to assist families financially and also provide a service for families in our village.”

One of the taxi drivers that have been stationed for over five years with the Aiga Malosi Taxi Service at Sataoa also agreed with Mr. Misa that they are struggling financially.

Fotuopule Tuigamala, aged 52, has told the Samoa Observer that the global pandemic has affected overseas countries with lives being lost to the coronavirus:

“But it seems our country has faced economic impacts with jobs lost and with the less incoming tourists.

“I am still grateful I still have a job but our taxi service has been struggling with not having a lot of passengers.

“We used to reap the benefits from tourists because going to town would mean $80.00 and it would be double to come back.”

The owner of Molipula Taxi Service at Vaiee also reiterated the same sentiments of experiencing a financial struggle with not enough passengers after the lockdown.

Malaesilia Lene Malaesilia, 60 said that there are 13 taxis operating in their business:

“At the moment, the passengers we have are from the village or district, and even some who travel to the plantation call us for our services.

“Our main role is to serve our people by providing services. But it is out if anyone’s control what all countries are going through.”

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