Health, wellness and financial schemes for cabbies

The National Taxi Association (NTA) thanks Mr Robert Lim for his many useful suggestions ("Offer free health screening, awards and perks to improve cabbies' welfare"; last Sunday). We will study them carefully as part of our feedback process.

We have about 180 full-time taxi drivers who volunteer their time as elected representatives to help members with workplace grievances and organise events.

Through regular engagements with taxi drivers on platforms like our coffee-shop talk sessions and focus group discussions, the NTA gathers feedback on the issues and worries they face.

As drivers ourselves, we empathise with the concerns affecting cabbies' daily living. Some of the recent issues raised by the NTA include the call to review the taxi industry holistically, relaxation of Central Business

District rules, the Electronic Road Pricing discount pass, fare and rental review, and further tweaking of taxi availability indicators. One area of focus is the cabbies' health and wellness.

Being self-employed, we need to save up for our medical needs. Thus, it was a breakthrough when the NTA managed to get taxi operators on board the Drive And Save scheme in 2011, by co-contributing to cabbies' Medisave accounts.

The NTA also partners Parkway Shenton, Raffles Medical, NTUC Unity Healthcare and Q&M Dental to offer affordable medical treatment and services to our members and their families.

To keep our members fit and healthy, sporting and wellness programmes like bowling, badminton and brisk walking are organised regularly.

Through our collaboration with various local attractions, such as the Science Centre, Wild Wild Wet and Resorts World Sentosa, our members are offered discounted rates to enjoy the facilities with their families.

Also, to help relieve cabbies' worries relating to rising school expenses for their children, 3,100 eligible members and their children receive about $580,000 worth of financial assistance through U Care Back to School vouchers and U-Stretch vouchers annually.

There is still a lot more we can do, and we hope to continue doing so for our members. We look forward to working with all our partners and key stakeholders to bring about positive changes to the lives of our cabbies.

Gerald Chan President National Taxi Association

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