Taxi Drivers Find Alternative Ways to Care for Families during Lockdown

Toleafoa Mautofu Romeo Sa of Tuvao Taxi Stand.

Thursday 31 March 2022, Apia Samoa. Public transportation providers have been hard hit during Samoa’s alert level 3 lockdown. Today marks two weeks since Samoa detected its first case of covid-19 and taxi drivers have been unable to earn any income due the limited movements during Samoa’s national lockdown. One taxi driver from a stand has said it has not been easy for their drivers, however, they quickly moved to find alternative ways to help each other support their families.

As Toleafoa Mautofu Romeo Sa shares with SGN, they decided to put the idle days to good use, and help each other to ensure each family had access to home-grown vegetables and free range chickens as a start. Toleafoa said the taxi drivers from Tauvao Taxi Stand, have been helping each other to develop vegetable gardens (togalaau aina) and free range chickens (pa moa) amongst other initiatives, during the lockdown.

The Tauvao Stand has 27 drivers, all male, and it is run like a club – with their Club President Taualiipano Nimo, Vice President Pelenato Saena and Secretary Jason Ulale at the helm. Tauvao said their families rely heavily on the income from taxis for their everyday needs. However, the lockdown has meant that 27 men were unable to earn a living.

“So we met and decided as a group that we were going to enforce vegetable gardens (asiasiga) and subsistence farms near our homes,” said Toleafoa. “Some of us had them already, and others needed to start, so we had to share and help each other out. We are now also moving into stage two, to ensure all families have free range chickens”.

“It’s also a really good way for all of us to get our bodies moving and get some exercise,” he smiles. “A big change from driving around all day..”

Toleafoa said this initiative is their small way of responding to the Prime Minister and Government, as well as the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) who have been calling for the nation to work together during these difficult times.

“For all of our drivers, the mandates of wearing a mask and carrying your vaccination card are mandatory for Tauvao Stand – passengers are unable to be transported if they don’t adhere to these SOE orders set down by our government,” said Toleafoa.

“We pray for God’s protection over Samoa, and we pray for all families, especially those who don’t have any income during these hard times.”