Taxi drivers in Hull report they’re battling the town transforming into a ghost town from people staying indoors during lockdown 3.
When the govt announced the primary lockdown in March, the bulk of individuals including drivers thought life would be back to normal soon – but 10 months later that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The government has told people to work from home and only head back to work “if you can’t reasonably work from home”.
I went into the city centre to speak directly with taxi drivers and see how they have been affected by the pandemic in the last few months.
Uber driver Zia Rehman was parked on the side of Norfolk Street. He revealed he hadn’t had a customer for over two hours and was patiently expecting employment to return through.
“It’s very quiet, near enough dead,” he said, and revealed he was considering looking for a new job after months of hardship.
“The nightlife no longer exists, all the night drivers now do day shifts with there no longer being any students, offices are still closed and there are still some offices which will never return because it’s cheaper to allow employees to work from home. The number of people opting to book a taxi online has also fallen. It’s just a struggle now. In this day and age, it’s harder to find another job, I’ve been doing this for 15/16 years but I’m thinking of quitting.
“self-employed drivers have claimed grants from the government. It’s the only way we’ve survived, a number of us (taxi drivers) have left also.
“I don’t see it ending by April like I first thought with the way it is being handled by the government.
“Some People Still Think it’s aJoke.”
Zia is just one of the drivers who has raised concerns about taxi drivers not being made a priority to receive a vaccine despite working closely with people who may or may not carry the virus.
He wasn’t enthused that things would improve this year and a second Uber driver agreed that the industry had been hard hit by the pandemic.
The driver, who would like to remain anonymous, said: “It’s really hard, just hard really but it’s hard for everyone. It’s just that time really.
You need to be self-employed for 2 or three years before you qualify. It’s hard, my wife is supporting me really, she works as a care worker within the NHS.
“A lot of small companies that have traded for years and years have found themselves suddenly going bankrupt, it’s affected everyone in several ways, I just hope everyone can pull through it.
“let’s hope we’re over the worst now, so we can look ahead.”
His optimism wasn’t shared by many other drives, who said they had little or no hope of life returning to normal soon.
Walking on through the town centre, the road outside the railroad station was lined with parked taxis. On a traditional day, the road would be full of people heading to offices, with others running trains and battling suitcases as black cabs parked by the side to pick up customers.
But this is far from reality. Mohammed Khan told me he had waited hours for customers and received very little in fares.
“The first fare of the day yesterday didn’t arrive until around 10.15am.
“Its lockdown until February 15 then the review then it’s likely to be extended until March then Easter.
“I’ve got bills to pay, mortgage, family. There is the wear & tear on the car, tax and insurance still to pay.
“You could receive up to £2,000 in grants – but what they provide you isn’t enough.