KUALA LUMPUR: The conventional taxi industry has described the Government’s proposal to introduce fewer Puspakom vehicle inspections for them – as a means to level the playing field with newly approved Uber and GrabCar – as inadequate.
Klang Valley Taxi Drivers’ Action Committee president Zailani Isa Usuluddin said these “deregulation” suggestions were not good enough to allow conventional taxis to survive in an e-hailing world.
“Don’t try to trick us. This excuse is not good enough to get us to agree with Uber and GrabCar. This suggestion with Puspakom is just a way for them to cari jalan keluar (find a way out) with us,” he said.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had said that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) presented papers on deregulation plans for taxis in order to place them on the “same platform” as the e-hailing services which were legalised by Cabinet last week.
Besides possibly having fewer restrictions on drivers’ public service vehicle licences (PSV), he also suggested less frequent checks with Puspakom, which are usually done once every six months.
Taxi operators pay RM50 per car for each check. That is a small price to pay, they said, compared to the huge losses they were expecting once Uber and GrabCar take to the streets legally.
Malaysian Taxi Drivers Trans-formation Association vice-president Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain said he was surprised by the Government’s sudden willingness to compromise vehicular safety after legalising Uber and GrabCar.
“They were so concerned about the safety of people before. Now? After just six months, taxi tyres are bald. If they extend checks to one year, how are we going to drive safely? Do they want the image of taxis to be tarnished?” he asked.
Rather than relaxing on checks, Kamaruddin suggested a quota system that dispenses licences in favour of full-time taxi drivers first.
“SPAD says it wants to give out 150,000 licences, then those licences should go to us first because we are doing this for a living.
“Uber and GrabCar drivers are doing this as a side income. The remainder of the licences can go to them,” he said.
Big Blue Taxi Services founder Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail said operators had no problem paying for checks, adding that less inspections would only perpetuate the bad image for taxis.
“We want the customers to feel safe. Safety is more important than money. Why are they changing this? Who is this really benefiting? You see how many things they are drastically changing just for Uber and GrabCar,” said the livid taximan.
Today, taxi operators are set to meet with SPAD on a briefing on the deregulation plans for the industry to make way for the new e-hailing services in Bukit Kiara.
There are around 77,000 registered taxi drivers in the country.