IT was recently reported in the press that the Movement to Demand for Taxi Permits Malaysia (Taxi) had announced plans to distribute 100,000 A3-size “We Want Permit” stickers to cabs in the Klang Valley.
Taxi chairman Mohammad Ridzuan Mohamad Daud said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had pledged in June last year that taxi licences will be awarded directly to taxi drivers.
However, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has not issued any taxi permits since its inception in January 2011 as the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) had earlier flooded the market by granting several thousand permits to companies and individuals.
As a result, there are 37,000 cabs operating in the Klang Valley when the optimum number should be 20,000.
Issuing new permits would further affect the livelihood of existing cabbies as they are without passengers 60% of the time due to the oversupply of taxis.
The market rate for the rental of a taxi permit is around RM18 per day inclusive of road tax, third party motor insurance and Puspakom inspection fees.
Interest rates for rental-purchase facility from taxi companies are much higher than hire-purchase loans from banks.
Cabbies given permits may save on rental and interest rates but such savings are easily wiped out with more taxis on the road.
As such, cabbies with new permits will be back to square one The average income for cabbies has been on a steady decline for over the past decade from 2002.
At the recent launch of the “We Want Permit” campaign, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin and Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid were at KL Sentral to distribute the stickers.
It is imperative that we do not repeat the same mistake by granting taxi permits freely across the board but to qualified individuals only.
For example, cabbies with clean records and in good physical and mental health can be considered for individual permits upon expiry of their rental-purchase agreements with taxi companies.
They ought to realise that they were never forced into “modern day slavery” but chose to become cabbies and sourced their cabs from a taxi company.
Many cabbies that received their permits during the last months of LPKP have struggled to repay their hire-purchase loans, especially those who have bought Proton Exoras as the meter fares are the same as 10-year old Proton Sagas.
As such, many cabbies operating executive taxis are virtually sentenced to waiting for long hours at major hotels and shopping malls.
We cannot afford a situation when the number of taxis is increased to 40,000 in the Klang Valley and exasperated cabbies go on strike by blocking city streets, airports and train stations.
YS CHAN Kuala Lumpur
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