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Saturday October 15, 2011

Learning to empathise with cabbies

Sunlight Taxi’s recent treasure hunt, “Having Fun With Sunlight”, was a roaring success, with over 300 taxi drivers and members of the public braving the rain in the Klang Valley to collect treasures for a good cause, and to vie for the top prize of RM2,000.

The winning team was ironically named “Don’t Know Much”.

In total, RM30,000 in cash and kind was given out as prizes to 49 teams.

The “Don’t Know Much” team, comprising long-time friends Mohd Md Taib, Ahmad Zarmilan Mohamad and Ahmad Iznie, joked that while they might not know much about anything else, they were aware that teamwork pays off.

Individually each had taken part in various treasure hunts before and won, but this was the first time they ever participated together to win a grand prize.

Mohd Md Taib said, “We had expected to be in the top five but were surprised we came first. It was a fun, memorable and unique event. For the first time, we did not have to drive in a treasure hunt ,but depended solely on the taxi driver to navigate us. We spent so much time communicating with our taxi driver, which helped us to empathise with their daily challenges.”

The treasure hunt was also held to help underprivileged children.

Sunlight Taxi and main sponsors Magnum, silver sponsor KK Supermart and bronze sponsor Fotokem visited Rumah Hope (a sanctuary for abused and neglected children) after the event and donated all the treasures collected from the hunt to the children there.

In addition, Sunlight will continue to contribute RM500 every month to home’s petrol bill.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief operating officer, Azhar Ahmad, who flagged off the first-ever taxi treasure hunt in Malaysia, commended the event for being such a fun and meaningful effort to bridge the gap between taxi drivers and the public.

He said it was also a platform to lift the spirits of taxi drivers.

Azhar indicated that taxi drivers need to improve their revenue to make better living.

“There are 37,000 registered taxis in the Klang Valley — 3.5 times more taxis than in New York. However, taxi drivers in New York earn double what our local drivers earn, in percentage terms, for the time they spend on the road.

“When we analysed this, we found that the difference lies in advanced technology. In New York, taxi drivers use GPS to enable the public to call the call centre to book a taxi. This leads to quicker turn-arounds and efficient income generation for taxi drivers.

“I am encouraged to know Sunlight Taxi has taken steps to employ GPS systems in their cabs to improve the revenue of taxi drivers,” said Azhar.

To encourage the public to use taxi services, Azhar said that people must understand taxis must not be seen as a mode of public transportation like buses or LRTs. The latter carry a lot of passengers while taxis are a personalised transportation service which provides comfort, convenience and exact drop-offs for passengers.

Azhar added that more educational programmes for both the public and taxi drivers alike were needed to improve mutual understanding.

Sunlight executive director Choi Wei Yee said: “For the new year, we intend to conduct more educational and training programmes for our taxi drivers to improve their communications with the public. We are already installing GPS systems in a few hundred taxis as a pilot project to improve the revenue of our drivers..

The Sunlight taxi treasure hunt was sponsored by Magnum (Platinum Sponsor), Cooper Tyre CCST (Gold Sponsor), KK Supermart (Silver Sponsor), Fotokem (Bronze Sponsor) and the official leisure café – Station One Café.

Other prize sponsors were Life Regen, MBG FruitShop, Fujihome, Seri Cempaka Suite, Fitness Concept Sdn Bhd and Chemplex Continental Sdn Bhd – Dynotab.

For details on Sunlight Taxi taxi bookings, call 1300-800-222.

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