Local taxi drivers become pandemic heroes

February 25, 2021 BY

Lovepreet Sharma has been driving taxis for more than 10 years and has provided a free service since the initial COVID-19 lockdown. Photo: SUPPLIED

A TEAM of local taxi drivers have become the unexpected heroes of the pandemic offering free services to the most vulnerable members of the community.

Lovepreet (Harry) Sharma decided to bring together a small team of drivers during each lockdown to provide delivery and pickup services throughout the region.

Mr Sharma, who has been driving taxis for more than 10 years, said his job has allowed him to get to know vulnerable members of the community.

“Mostly in taxis we get to meet a lot of elderly and disabled people and when the lockdown was announced I was really thinking about these people who were living alone and how they would manage to do their shopping,” he said.

“I discussed with my friends if we can do free deliveries for anyone if they need and they agreed.”

The group has taken to community Facebook pages across the three statewide lockdowns to offer support for those unable to leave isolation, as well the elderly and disabled residents.

During the latest lockdown Harry was joined by fellow taxi drivers and cricket teammates Keshav Bharwaj, Vishwa Jit and Ramandeep Singh who between them offered their free service between Leopold, Mount Duneed, Armstrong Creek, Grovedale and East Geelong.

As part of the service the men would offer to pick up and deliver parcels, medication, groceries and any other small items that could fit in the boot of a car, as well as offering to supply food for those who were really struggling.

Mr Sharma urged locals to not be shy as it was “a time for helping each other”.

“That was the whole point when we started and we found people who really needed the help and they really appreciated it which boosted our confidence,” he said.

“Everyone was so appreciative and that encouraged us to keep doing what we are doing.

“We received a lot of messages on Facebook, it was really good to see everyone so positive.”

The free taxi service started at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020 and has since been reprised under the reoccurrence of tougher restrictions providing much-needed assistance at just a phone call away.

“We are happy to help in any possible way,” Mr Sharma said.