Hit by COVID-19, Amritsar taxi owners, drivers seek financial aid from govt

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Harpreet Singh, A taxi owner from Amritsar (Photo/ANI)
Harpreet Singh, A taxi owner from Amritsar (Photo/ANI)

Amritsar (Punjab) [India], September 5 (ANI): The taxi owners of Amritsar, who have been out of business since lockdown, requested the Punjab government for financial assistance, as they are unable to pay the salaries of their drivers and the loan and insurance instalment of their vehicles.
Talking to ANI, Sunny Kumar, a taxi owner from Amritsar, requested the state government to give tax rebates to taxi owners for a year.
"I want to request the Punjab government to give us a tax rebate for a year. We have almost no earnings for five months and have to pay our drivers, loan, and insurance instalments and maintain our family. We don't even have money for food and school fees of our children," he said.
Another taxi owner from Amritsar, Harpreet Singh told ANI that both owners and drivers of taxis are facing a hard time due to lockdown.
"There are no tourists because flights and trains are not operating. If we get a local customer and there is some delay due to the ride in the evening, we are challaned. According to the guidelines of the health department, keeping half the seats empty does not cover the travelling cost either, and if we take more than the stipulated passengers, we are again challaned," he said.
He added that most owners have bought the vehicles on loan, and with no business, it is getting difficult for them to pay loans and insurance instalments of the vehicles.
Taxi drivers from the city have a similar tale to tell. Sohan Singh who lives outside the city comes to Amritsar daily, cleans the vehicle he drives, and on most days goes back home without earning anything.
"Before lockdown, we used to get travelling allowance and dearness allowance other than our regular salaries and were able to sustain ourselves. Since lockdown, it is getting difficult for owners to sustain themselves. How will they pay us?" said the driver.
With people across the globe confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospitality and its allied sectors are one of the worst affected.
As per The National Statistical Office (NSO), the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released the estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter (April-June) Q1 of 2020-21, showed a contraction of 23.9 per cent as compared to 5.2 per cent growth in Q1 2019-20.
Media reports said hospitality and allied industries contracted by 47 per cent in Q1 of 2020-21. (ANI)