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  Home > Sarawak

Cabbies Voice Out Plight To Govt

Taxi drivers give their thumbs-down to the e-hailing services during the peaceful assembly at the old DUN complex.


 January 9th, 2018  |  09:18 AM  |   1814 views



Help level the playing field for us against e-hailing services, appeal local taxi operators


Taxi drivers here are appealing to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to help them cushion the blow resulting from the operation of e-hailing services Uber and Grab.


A total of 237 of them signed a letter of petition to the chief minister during a peaceful assembly that took place at the old State Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex in Petra Jaya yesterday.


On hand to receive the document was private secretary to chief minister Ahmad Hazlan Ismawi.


The four-page petition pointed out that the taxi operators had suffered an over 50 per cent drop in business since the operation of Uber and Grab in Sarawak.


The industry players said while they comprehended that the e-hailing services were an inevitable global trend, they also wanted the government to be fair to the taxi industry.


According to the letter, there are several policies that put taxi operators at a disadvantage to compete with either Uber or Grab services – one of which is the requirement for taxi drivers to acquire the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licensing, which is to be renewed every year. It is learnt that in order to renew PSV licences, the holders must pass their annual medical check-ups.


However, there is no regulation expecting Uber or Grab drivers to go such medical screening because they are mere private vehicle driving licence holders.


Moreover, the letter stated that all taxis must be covered by passenger’s insurance policies, but there is no such requirement for Uber or Grab drivers.


The taxi operators said while they had to pay RM4 per pick-up trip from Kuching International Airport (KIA), Uber and Grab drivers could just collect passengers from KIA without having to bear any cost.


Additionally, taxi operators must pay the management company of Kuching Sentral Bus Terminal a fee of RM85 per month, per taxi, in order to queue at the bus terminal. Again, Uber and Grab drivers could just offer their services with no cost.


Taxi operators also lamented that not only did the government not provide incentives for the purchase of vehicles meant to be used as taxis, the excise duty rebate for taxis had also been axed in the last couple of years.


“But anyone purchasing Perodua (vehicles) for Uber or Grab purposes is entitled to a RM5,000 rebate from the government.


“Due to the various restrictions and regulations on taxis, our operation costs are much higher and thus, we have to charge higher fares than those charged by Uber or Grab,” said the letter, which also stated that all taxi operators were asking was for the state government to help them stand on equal ground with the e-hailing services, as far as competition was concerned.


It could be seen that among the placards held by the participants of the peaceful assembly, one read ‘Stop Grab/Uber in Sarawak’ – the letter had indicated that the local taxi industry was not asking the state government to ban Uber or Grab.


Taxi operators felt that the so-called safety requirements imposed by the government on taxis were ‘redundant’ in view that the government gave the greenlight to the e-hailing services.


They said the government ought to either do away with the regulations on taxis or see to it that Uber and Grab drivers would also be subject to the same requirements to ‘protect the interest (safety) of their passengers’.


They noted that an attractive feature of Uber or Grab was the convenience of having mobile application (apps), programmed by international companies with huge financial resources and expertise.


On the contrary, local taxi drivers do not have the same expertise and resources to come up with similar Apps to compete, said the letter, adding that this has reduced their potential customer base as the younger generations are keen on using Apps rather than using phones to call for taxis.


“To expect local taxis to compete with Uber or Grab is similar to expecting the local sundry shops to compete with Giants, Aeon, 7-Eleven and others,” it said.


As such, taxi operators suggested that the state government, with its digital economy experts and resources, would devise an App similar to those used by Uber or Grab to revive the taxi industry.


On top of that, they also asked for the excise duty rebate policy for taxis be reinstated to bring down the operation costs.


They even cautioned that Uber or Grab might not be as cheap as they are now if taxis were to be driven out of business.


“All we are asking for is for the government set in the system for us, the taxi drivers, to compete on equal ground with them (Uber and Grab).


“Otherwise, we would see a day when there is no taxi service in Kuching and we would all be at the mercy of Uber or Grab,” concluded the letter.



courtesy of THE BORNEO POST

by Lim How Pim


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