One of the unnoticed effects of the pandemic was the withdrawal of karozzini from our streets. The total absence of tourism resulted in a complete stop to this business. Even with the re-opening of tourism these past few weeks, we are not seeing the same number of karozzini on the streets as before.
MSPCA believes that tourism is not projected to get back to normal in the short term, leaving cabby drivers struggling to earn enough income to cover the necessary expenses to properly support all horses. COVID-19 allowance certainly is not enough to maintain the livelihood of the drivers and their families and the well-being of the horses.
At the time of writing, Transport Malta has 111 horse-driven carriages registered which is a high number for a small island. We are concerned about what the future looks like for these horses if cabby drivers don’t have enough work to maintain them.
Althea Galea, MSPCA Animal Rights Manager said that “MSPCA is proposing that the government introduces a financial measure providing half the cabby drivers with the opportunity to a “golden handshake” to relinquish their licence and start a new trade or business.”
This would mean that after the measure there would remain only 55 (or fewer) licenced cabby drivers.
Cabby drivers that relinquish their licence should also be given the opportunity to give back their horse or horses to Animal Welfare which should keep these horses in a state-funded sanctuary. These horses should not be killed.
Israel was the first country to ban horse-drawn vehicles, followed by a lot of cities in America. Ideally, we should follow this example too. Unfortunately, we believe that if horse-carriage were banned, most horses would end up homeless or worse put to sleep. This is why we believe that Animal Welfare should invest in setting up and running a horse sanctuary and also support existing horse sanctuaries to host and take care of these horses with immediate effect.