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Taxi drivers turn down six-figure grant: “Give it to the health service”
25 March 2020 @ 21:47

MADRID taxi drivers were offered a total of €132,000 to help with fuel costs and the expense of cleaning their cars at a time when their only permitted trade is transporting healthcare workers to and from their workplace, and those with mobility problems to supermarkets or pharmacies, meaning their takings are radically cut.

They have also had to slash their fees by 50% in accordance with an emergency Royal Decree, or Bill of Law, as part of their essential service during the national quarantine – meaning they are earning less than ever.

So the €132,000 offered by the General Directorate of Transport would have come in very handy – but they have turned it down.

The cash was ready to be handed over to Madrid's Professional Taxi Federation (FPTM) on Monday, but its members say they want it to be donated to the health service instead for buying masks and other protective gear for staff, and for respirators.

“If there's one thing that's bringing us all closer together these days – even at a distance – it's precisely that feeling of how we can only get through this by joining forces and staying united,” says an FPTM spokesperson.

“Tougher weeks are ahead, but between us, we have over 500 vehicles available for those who most need them at the moment – healthcare workers.”

The FPTM says it also wants its services to reach remote, rural parts of the Greater Madrid region.

Even though the financial aid they have been offered will be ploughed into hospitals to help protect staff and buy necessary equipment for patients admitted with the Covid-19 Coronavirus, Madrid's cabbies are not entirely on their own.

So far, two companies – Midas and Airlife – have given them car-cleaning machines so they can completely valet and sterilise their vehicles at least daily, in addition to the disinfecting they carry out before and after every passenger.



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