Kyabram's taxi crisis needs resolvingApril 2, 2014 4:58am
Desperate for answers and solutions to Kyabram’s taxi crisis, the only calls former Kyabram Taxis manager Rosie Ngamotu is getting is from desperate customers.
Ms Ngamotu lost her job last Wednesday when she was pulled over and told the taxi she was driving was unroadworthy.
It was the only vehicle the embattled service had been running.
And it had been running non-stop.
Ms Ngamotu said she worked 144 hours the week prior. Her co-driver, who did four day shifts, worked 12-hour days.
That car sits idle in Ms Ngamotu’s front yard.
She has been unable to make contact with Kyabram Taxis owner Ted Kilby, so reasons that she is without a job.
But since she still has the company’s mobile phone, she is still taking calls and is attempting to help the distressed, even resorting to using her own car while not accepting payment.
‘‘They are ringing and saying ‘what am I going to do?’ It’s heart-breaking because I now consider a lot of these people my friends,’’ she said.
Ms Ngamotu said she knew things weren’t looking good when a year ago the second vehicle the company owned was removed.
‘‘That made it very difficult because that meant we weren’t able to get another driver, so we have been working enormous hours and at times haven’t been able to keep up,’’ she said.
‘‘When I started here two years ago there were three cars, but it has gradually faded.’’
So desperate was Ms Ngamotu to have the remaining car fixed that she turned to asking customers for finance.
‘‘I was desperate. I knew what would happen if this town did not have a permanent taxi,’’ she said.
She is taking at least 10 calls a day from people needing transport.
‘‘We have a lot of elderly people and a lot of Centrelink clients in this town who rely on the taxi to get them from point A to point B,’’ Ms Ngamotu said.
‘‘They go shopping, have doctors and hospital visits, come and pay bills and visit people.’’
Ms Ngamotu said she could not understand how the Taxi Services Commission could expect a taxi service from another town to fill the gap left by Kyabram Taxis.
‘‘All taxi services are stretched,’’ she said. ‘‘And the best they (other services) might be able to do is take pre-bookings.
‘‘We need a taxi plonked here in town during daylight hours to give people certainty.’’
Campaspe Shire councillor Carol Howell said she was disappointed to hear that taxis in Kyabram have been taken off the road.
‘‘Particularly the impact this will have on the elderly who rely on this service within town,’’ she said.
‘‘I hope that neighbours and friends might be able to assist where they can. It might provide an opportunity for a new enterprise to service Kyabram.’’
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