- in Science
Minicab drivers are demanding Transport for London (TfL) offer them advice on how to protect themselves against Covid-19.
London’s 110,000 minicab drivers are allowed to work if they are providing essential journeys.
The United Private Hire Drivers Association said TFL should urgently advise drivers how to minimise the risk of catching coronavirus.
Six London minicab drivers are thought to have died from the disease.
Unlike black taxis, minicabs do not have screens to separate drivers from passengers.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “TfL are working with the private hire vehicle industry to make sure that there aren’t any unintended safety hazards by these screens being fitted in a way that’s dangerous to the passenger or the driver.”
James Farrar, from the United Private Hire Drivers Association, said TfL should give clear guidance on how the risk to drivers could be mitigated.
“If we cannot mitigate the risk, if it’s not possible and the science doesn’t permit it, we need to be told that as well,” he said.
“What we can’t have is the continuation of the status quo where we’re acting as if nothing has happened and drivers are dying.”
Science BBC London’s transport correspondent Tom Edwards
Bus drivers and their union successfully managed to change TfL’s policy on which entrance passengers used for boarding and now minicab drivers are attempting something similar.
Minicab drivers say they have been left in a policy vacuum with no measures or clear guidelines to safeguard them or passengers.
They say they are not even given advice on how many passengers they can pick up.
Some of them want to install plastic screens in the cars but TfL have told them not to at the moment.
As 94% of drivers are black, Asian and minority ethnic, the United Private Hire Drivers Association say the lack of protection is nothing short of discrimination.
Abdurzak Hadi, who has been a private hire driver since 2008 and has had the virus, said: “I feel let down by TfL. This disease is a killer.
“I would like TfL to come up with measures and clear guidelines to protect drivers and passengers from infecting each other so families will not lose loved ones.”
Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TfL said: “We continue to follow the advice of government and we are meeting regularly with trade representatives throughout this pandemic to work together on the issues being faced by the industry.
“We have issued regular notices with the latest advice as and when the government publishes it, along with additional information about support with mental health or financial concerns.”