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Rough Cuts | COVID-19: Character-changing phenomenon?

Do you think that large taxi companies in Davao City and perhaps elsewhere in the country are reeling over as a result of the temporary stoppage of their operation during this time of the CoViD 19 pandemic?

Think it over again. It is not the taxi companies that are badly affected. They have so much takes when their operation was still normal prior to the global health emergency. The main sufferers of the “stop operations” caused by the CoViD 19 are the drivers; they who keep on bringing in the dough to the large taxi operators daily.

And why are we saying that the large taxi companies have amassed so much to tie them over for the proverbial “rainy days” like the prevalence of the CoViD pandemic? Consider these schemes of large taxi companies operating in Davao City during the pre-CoViD days.

These money making schemes by large taxi firms in Davao City almost knock us down after thoroughly understanding how these work in favor of the operators and at the expense of the drivers.

According to our sources from among taxi drivers who are silently complaining of the strategy, this is how operators of huge taxi companies amass money other than the non-negotiable daily boundaries of drivers.

The drivers pointed to the usual daily scenario people see in the city’s major malls. By scenario they are referring to the taxi cabs lining up right in front of the main exits of the mall to pick up passengers. They pointed to us the names of this and that specific taxi companies lording over the mall pick-up and drop off areas to the exclusion of those that have no deal with the mall management.

To avail of this concession large taxi operators pay the malls fixed amount monthly. One taxi firm pays a local mall P15 thousand a month. But the firm’s management collects P10 pesos from each driver, whether or not he will fall in line or join the “torno” as they call it, at one particular mall. And that is on a daily basis.

So, if a transport company has, say, 200 units it will be able to collect from the drivers P2,000 a day. If the amount is to be multiplied by 30 days average, then the take is P60 thousand a month. If the salary of at least two mall-based dispatchers at P10,200 each or P20,400 a month, plus the fixed P15,000 concession fee to the mall, the net earnings of the taxi company will be P24,600 a month or P295,200 a year. Wow!

And believe you us our friends, we who take taxi cabs in our daily grind to survive, are also well aware that all units of large taxi companies are equipped with very high frequency (VHF) radio communications equipment so that drivers can maintain direct contact with the cab companies’ offices or vice versa. That is, the taxi firms can contact any of their units any time as long as they are within range of the radio communications’ frequency.

All the while it was our notion that the radio equipment installed on the taxi units are for free since the communications equipment installation is clearly more to the advantage of the companies than the drivers themselves. But no, it is actually rented by the drivers also on a daily basis at P10. And if a huge taxi establishment with 200 units of taxi cabs hires two radio operators at the same monthly rate as the taxi dispatchers at the mall area, then that taxi firm collects a net amount of P39,600 a month, assuming that the transport firm is not renting a transmitter facility. That’s a whooping P475,200 a year for that taxi company. And even if it is renting a transmitter site and spending for the permits and licenses to operate a radio communication, still the mentioned additional overhead expenses are peanuts compared to the net earnings.

The P10 pesos for the privilege to line up at the malls’ pick up station and the P10 rental for the radio equipment are already topped up in the so-called daily boundary that the drivers have to remit to the taxi company they are rendering driving services.

Meaning collection of the amount is as sure as the sun rising in the east daily.

And then there is this in-house fuel business of large taxi companies. Drivers of their units are obliged to gas up in the in-house fuel pumps at prices higher than those in regular gas stations.

We wonder if the in-house gas stations have separate business permits or are registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The drivers are claiming that they are not issued any receipt by the taxi firms’ gas stations.

No, we do not want to question anybody’s right to enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of enterprise. But we believe that for the taxi operators to do this is most unfair to the lowly drivers who labor more than twelve hours daily just to have some money to bring home to their families.

Now, why can’t the big-time taxi operators do away with the total of P20 that is added to the daily drivers’ boundary or taxi rental? The amount would convert to roughly 13 kilos of rice a week. Will that not make the drivers’ families happy?

Twenty pesos is a measly amount, but if this is given to the drivers, the act multiplies its value many times over. It will create a lot of goodwill that drivers will be more than ready to reciprocate in terms of honest and efficient service.

We are hoping that the large taxi company operators’ CoViD 19 experience will make them do a conscience re-examination and consider our herein recommendation? For all we know karma may just let go of their undesirable policies.

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