Rising fuel costs coupled with effects of COVID-19 has taken a toll on the taxi service with cabs struggling just to stay on the road.
“It’s the most difficult time for our business. We barely earn enough money to meet our daily runs or even to acquire spare-parts,” said Charles Metata.
Metata who has been on the road for the past three years said he would be lucky to earn $500 a day as most days his takings would be less than that.
“I have never experienced low cash-flow like what we experience now in my time as a taxi-driver,” said Metata.
Another taxi driver, Moana Sehuitai said before on a lucky day “one could earn up to $1,000 but now you would be fortunate to make $500.”
“It’s tough for us. I drive my own taxi. Just imagine those that drive for others who have to sacrifice to save money for their bosses. It’s tough. It’s also sad,” he added.
Moana recalled that prior to COVID-19 things were good and money was flowing but since COVID-19 things have not been good for “us”.
He said coupled with high fuel and poor road conditions—it’s impossible to make money.
Metata said: “We are basically working just to put forward on the table. What we earn is only sufficient to feed our families and we don’t have enough to save.”
Moana added that poor road conditions mean more money is spent on spare-parts—in the end “you’re left with nothing.”
Regardless of the increase of fuel and poor Honiara roads, the taxis maintain their price at $10 a kilo.
“It’s hard but we are not increasing our rates hoping that by June the price of fuel will drop by 50% which will help us to save a bit on fuel,” said Moana.
Metata said because of high fuel prices he can not afford to drive around but packs at Townground hoping that passengers come by his cab.
“I have an allocation of $100 on fuel per day. I can’t afford to spend more as it would be unattainable for me to stay in business,” said Metata who comes from Temotu.