Last week, several news portals reported on Kuala Lumpur’s taxi service being rated as the worst in the world by the London Cabs website in its “10 Countries with the Worst Drivers” list.
Over the weekend, the Kuala Lumpur Sentral Taxi Drivers Association concurred with the website’s claims, stating the the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) should be more involved with taxi associations to ensure a tighter screening process of taxi drivers and not be hasty in giving out licences.
Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association (PERS1M) Deputy Manager Kamarudin Mohd Hussain who commented on the website’s claims said the fault was squarely on SPAD’s failure in enforcing the usage of the metre to charge and proper attire while on the job.
Speaking to The Malay Mail Online, SPAD Chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar also agreed with the off-putting list and said many programmes and training courses for taxi drivers had been organised to curb the problem.
Additionally, he stated that 50% of the 42,000 taxis operating in Kuala Lumpur were privately owned. “Most of the privately-owned taxis are more than seven-years-old and SPAD has been encouraging the drivers to purchase new cars,” he said. London Cabs claimed in its list that “Cars in Kuala Lumpur can often be rather old and in poor condition.”
However, Kuala Lumpur Sentral Taxi Drivers Association president Badrol Hisham in a rebuttal to SPAD’s statement says that taxi drivers are unable to upgrade their vehicles to new ones on the count of high purchase and maintenance costs.
“If he (taxi driver) is already finding it difficult to pay for maintenance, how do you expect him to buy a new car? I have known a few taxi drivers who resorted to loan sharks to pay for their taxis,” he said. He added that taxi drivers had to service their vehicles every two weeks because of the high mileage clocked.
Last month, local Proton taxi distributor, Delivery Special Sdn Bhd organised an event to address the recent criticisms that taxi drivers faced, where some claimed that the maintenance costs for the Proton models are just too high for them to bear.
Badrol said, “They are faced with hardship. They already find it difficult to make ends meet, and with the new regulations outlined by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to upgrade to new vehicles, it is absurd.”
This is a response to Hamid Albar’s statement that only about 2,000 taxi drivers in the city had complied with its guidelines to upgrade their vehicles.
Taxi drivers had to pay the rental for their taxis before getting their salaries released which amounted to between RM30 and RM40 daily. Kamarudin said that the SPAD should assist taxi drivers financially by subsidising the purchase and maintenance cost of new vehicles.