Xisco Sánchez, Palma taxi driver.

17-03-2020Alejandro Sepulveda

Xisco Sánchez is a taxi driver in Palma. He has never known a time when he has spent so much time alone in his car. Being a taxi driver at the moment, he says, "is to spend hours and hours alone with the green light on".

Takings are down by up to 60%. In Palma there are some 1,300 taxis. Half of the fleet is currently operating shifts. He has had some luck by comparison with some of his colleagues in that he has been taking people to the airport - the last foreigners to leave - to hospital and to work. But the close of hotels has hit the taxi drivers hard.

He uses disinfectant gel, wears gloves to drive but is finding it difficult to get hold of face masks. It's scary, he says, if a client gets in and starts coughing.

He wants the town hall to adopt measures. If there are fewer taxis, there are then greater opportunities for the taxis which are available. At present he is doing a shift from 6am to 2pm in the city centre. "This is where there's most work - Plaça Espanya, the Avenidas, Plaça Cort."

Since the state of emergency was introduced, the city - he notes - has become semi-deserted. "There aren't so many people on the streets and they don't want to take a taxi and risk contagion in a vehicle."

Xisco, 45, has two children. He can't afford to stay at home. "My boss has told me that I can, but financially I can't. I have to continue paying the mortgage and the bills and buying food." Despite any hardship he might be facing, he is offering to take elderly people to health facilities for free. It is a small gesture of solidarity at a time of crisis.

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Frederick Jessop / Hace 6 months

Most of the Drivers are self employed. Are buying their Cars on Hire Purchase. Now they have a major worry of losing their vehicles because of non payment to their finance companies.

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