Organisation does not agree that drivers of horse-drawn carriages should be reduced by half

The organisation of drivers of horse-drawn carriages does not agree with the proposal by the Society for the Protection and Welfare of Animals (MSPCA) to reduce the number of drivers by half by giving them financial compensation to renounce their licences.

Drivers who spoke with TVM said that this is unfair and they are asking for both sides to sit down and discuss the situation especially since the work is slow because of lack of tourists due to the pandemic.

The President of the organisation, Kevin Debono, said he would be calling a meeting as soon as possible for members. TVM spoke with Mr Debono and driver Richard Attard who explained why they are opposing this proposal because they said they feel it is unfair too the drivers who have spent the last 18 months without work because of the lack of tourists.

Mr Debono said, “Some want to take away our permit, others because of the sun want to remove us from the roads. Our drivers and their families are very hurt over this.”

Richard Attard said: “I expect that instead of making these proposals, let us come together because we wish to speak with these people.”

Mr Debono said that since they began working again after the airport re-opened a few weeks ago, the drivers are only doing one or two trips. Asked whether in these circumstances and in the light of their expenses, it is viable for them to keep doing this work, and the two drivers replied, yes.

“For whoever loves horses and Maltese tradition, the answer is yes. We want the karozzin to remain alive for a long time and since the number of drivers today is small, we need to keep this tradition going strong.”

Mr Attard said that every horse costs at least €200 a month to maintain. This is apart from vets, medicines, and other products to keep the horse in good condition.

“I do not have much schooling, I only know how to drive a karozzin. I know how to speak to tourists and have always managed to get by. I am not able to do any other work. This is my job and if they take this away from me, they will have taken everything.”

Mr Debono said that every driver has a card which gives him access to provide his horse with water –  especially during this heatwave –  with the horses sheltering under the shelters while waiting to take tourists for a ride.