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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Taxi Driver

by Alhassan Lamin
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Growing up, I never wanted to do this kind of work, but life forced me to do it, and I have fallen in love with it. I have been a driver for 28 years, and now I own the car. Even though this pandemic is hard for everyone, drivers’ good part is the cost per liter for fuel has reduced by SLL 1000. We also get less harassment from the police: now they only stop us from ensuring that the passengers use their face masks and that people follow the measures. On the downside, though, the maintenance cost has gone up because the spare parts are less available and more expensive.

The curfew means I can’t go out at 5 am. Now I leave the house at 7 am to look for passengers. When I get passengers, I can only load up as per the social distancing guidelines. That means I can only take three passengers at a time: one in front and two at the back. While this reduces the spread of COVID-19, it is terrible for business. I’m losing about SLL 75,000 a day for the one less passenger. The way that I make that up is if I get a chartered trip. I make way more that way, and it makes up for the losses, but that’s not every day.

I have four children at home. They’re all out of school because of the pandemic. So they can study online, so I bought their smartphones.

Credit: Essential Stories/OSIWA

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