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Self-employed cab drivers to protest over ‘injustice’ of saturated market

Self-employed cab drivers to protest over ‘injustice’ of saturated market

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Updated 6.25pm

Self-employed cab drivers will again protest this Monday over what they say is “injustice” perpetuated against them by government authorities. 

They will meet in front of Paul Boffa Hospital at 4 pm and march to the office of the Prime Minister at Castille. 

Aron Gatt, who heads a lobby representing drivers, said the self-employed feel shortchanged as the “y-plate” market has become oversaturated.

“Competition did not grow organically but illegitimately. Transport Malta and other authorities flooded the market by allowing companies to expand their fleet to hundreds of cars even though they are not in line with regulations,” Gatt, president of the Light Passenger Operators Association (LPOA), said.

He said that some of Malta’s largest fleets do not have off-street parking for their cabs but are still allowed to operate. 

Fleets have not only abused the system but pushed up insurance premiums due to accidents caused by drivers not used to local roads, Gatt said. 

“In 2020, we were paying around 700 a year in insurance; now, people are paying around 2,000. One person I know pays almost 4,000 yearly,” he said. 

As a result, self-employed cab drivers are only scraping by and earning just over the minimum wage when accounting for costs, Gatt said. 

In February, the Light Passenger Operators Association (LPOA) also organised a protest over low prices on cab platforms like Bolt, Uber and e-Cabs. 

They drove in a slow car cade from Ta Qali to Marsa as a show of force. 

They are organising another protest because the association feels it has been unheard by authorities. 

“We’ve had meetings with the government but nothing has changed,” he said. 

Companies with large fleets make up the vast majority of the Maltese cab market. 

A Parliamentary Question from last November shows that over 60 employers have a fleet of over 10 cars. Three of those have more than a hundred Y-plated cars. 

The largest fleet in Malta is WT Global with 269 cars. 

In comments to Times of Malta late on Friday, a spokesperson for the Transport Ministry said it had met representatives of the Light Passenger Operators Association on various instances and communication with stakeholders remained ongoing.

“The minister reiterates that his doors remain open to operators and to entertain discussions in good faith to discuss solutions. 

“While drivers have every right to protest, the government urges operators to continue to assist the authority in bettering the situation.”

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