A CORK taxi driver, who is battling to return to the industry after unexpectedly losing a leg, has slammed the government's decision to increase petrol and diesel costs in Budget 2022.
Bobby Lynch, a spokesperson for the Cork Taxi Council, had to undergo an amputation as a result of diabetes earlier this year.
The Cork man is currently availing of a wheelchair to move around while he waits for a prosthetic to be fitted. Mr Lynch's hope is to return to taxi-driving following rehabilitation. Nonetheless, he said that constant disregard for those in the industry will make it harder to do so.
Bobby was speaking out about the rise in carbon tax, which has been justified as a means to discourage people from using cars and promote a switch to electric vehicles. The carbon tax will be increased by another €7.50 this year to €41 per tonne. It will increase by the same amount in every budget up to 2029.
A litre of diesel will rise by 2.5 cent - or €1.48 for the average full tank from midnight. The price of petrol will rise by up to 2.1 cent - or €1.28 on a full tank. This is in addition to home heating oil which is also set to rise from May 1 next year, by up to €19.40 for a 900-litre tank.
Minister Paschal Donohoe defended the decision, saying "the world is burning and people will not tolerate Governments' inaction on climate crisis."
However, Mr Lynch said that taxi-drivers have taxi-drivers have taken enough hits as it is.
"Our meters are sealed," he said. "This isn't something we can consider as part of our overheads. You are going to be finding that fellas are overcharging. A lot of them will have no other choice.
He added that many don't realise the financial burden on taxi drivers.
"The general public doesn't realise the running costs of the taxi they are getting into. You'll often see people complain about the price who will have no problem paying seven euro for a pint. You have to be running a taxi in order to know what it is like. The government has given us no assistance since the start of the pandemic. Instead, we are putting our hands into our own pockets."
He warned that increased costs for taxi-drivers will force many out of the industry.
"A lot of people are getting out of the taxi industry because of the costs and this is going to continue. They are giving out grants to taxi drivers to change to full electric.
"However, a full electric car is no good to a taxi-driver because they won't get the distance out of it. We are being fleeced by the government."
Mr Lynch said there will be a long road ahead before he can return to the taxi industry.
"If I'm able to handle the prosthetic I am going to do my best to get into the industry even just for part-time hours. It has been really tough."