For cabbies on the Caye, life without tourism has robbed them of their main source of income.
One island cabbie today told the San Pedro Sun that with the current lockdown, it's a struggle to keep food on his family's table:
"Well in the past 2-3 months back it was very difficult for the Cab drivers to survive, because sometimes we make like 2 trips for the day and sometimes we don't do any. Now with this 14 days they gave us again, sometimes we come out and get nothing, nothing for the table, and for our kids. It's very hard for us Cab drivers, because everything is on lockdown, but still we are trying."
And while that cab driver says he is waiting for assistance from the Unemployment Relief Program, others in San Pedro are getting helped by the Food Assistance Programs targeting lockdown areas. It's led by the Ministry Of Human Development which says that up to last week it had delivered well over 1,500 such packages to the town.
San Pedro Becomes Ghost Town; Residents Getting Support from Food Assistance Programme
As you know by now, Ambergris Caye is at the top of the list with the number of COVID cases and residents on San Pedro have been experiencing hard times since the lockdown. Today, we checked in on San Pedro where residents for the most part remain inside their houses and a number of businesses have closed their doors. The once thriving island has been reduced to a ghost town. The livelihood of most residents, who worked in the tourism industry, has been shattered and they have become dependent on support from the government and other humanitarian organizations. This afternoon, a number of residents benefited from the COVID-19 Relief Food Assistance Programme which is being financed and managed by the Ministry of Human Development. Three stores on the island are working with the ministry, which has issued a list of approved persons who are to receive food hampers. This programme benefits persons in the lockdown areas only. Even so, the reality on the ground proves a sense of desperation. With assistance from a colleague based on San Pedro, this taxi driver shared his views on what’s happening on the island and how he and his family have been affected.
“In the past two three months that go back, it has been difficult for the cab drivers to survive because sometime we make like two trips for the day, which is like thirty bills for the day and sometimes, we noh see nothing. And now for this fourteen days that they give us again, it’s the same thing. Sometimes we go home with nothing in our hand; nothing for the food for the table for our kids. It is very hard for us cab drivers because everything is locked down. But still we are trying to survive. Me as a businessman, it is very difficult. I am thinking about the other guys that are not cab drivers; the people that are doing construction, I believe it is more hard for them too. It is very, very difficult.”
“Are you getting help from maybe the local authorities or any organization?”
“I guess so, I guess so. The people in the front on my right hand side, I guess they are getting food from the government, I believe so.”
“Have you gotten help from the government or somebody else?”
“No, no. I am independent, I work with tourism and the lee bit that I make is just to pay the bills and try to survive. At the moment, it is not so…but I try grind ahead.”
“You applied for the unemployment?”
“Yes I applied last week, but I heard it is going to be like probably next week but I noh know when.”