5919 Help Lead Taxi Drivers Out Of The Low Income Trap Focus Malaysia 02 09 2021
THE Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) ought to be applauded for initiating its Golden Jubilee Caring Tour to distribute 900 food baskets nationwide to tourism industry players, especially those who contribute to it.
After handing out 200 food baskets to limousine and taxi drivers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on July 24, SOCSO made a similar visit to Penang International Airport (PIA) on August 27.
The Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) and the Civil Defence Force were roped in for the distribution of food baskets, worth RM100 each, to members of the PIA Limousine and Taxi Association.
Its chairman Hafizi Ahmad told reporters that some of the 300 limousine taxi drivers at PIA have had their vehicles repossessed for failure to pay their monthly instalments due to severe reduction of income since the COVID-19 outbreak.
He disclosed that each driver could collect about RM200 in fares a day prior to the pandemic.
Now, some drivers could only get one or two trips a month, while others have had none for many months.
He urged representatives from the Transport Ministry to look into their plight and to engage with them soon.
He lamented that the authorities are oblivious to their sufferings and demanded for solutions as he believed that issues affecting them could be resolved.
But what can the Government do to help?
The answer is little or nothing as taxi drivers are not the only ones losing their livelihoods under prolonged lockdowns.
Unashamedly, they have been cry-babies for many years and politicians using them as pawns should also be blamed.
In February 2013, for example, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin and Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid were at KL Sentral to lend support after the Movement to Demand for Taxi Permits Malaysia announced plans to distribute 100,000 “We Want Permits” A3-size stickers.
This was because the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) had not issued any taxi permits since it began operations in January 2011 because the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) had earlier flooded the market with too many taxi permits.
There were 38,000 taxis operating in the Klang Valley alone when the optimum number should be 20,000.
Issuing more permits would further affect the livelihood of existing cabbies as they were without passengers most of the time due to the oversupply of taxis.
After Uber entered the Malaysian market in 2014 and forced MyTeksi to morph into Grab by adding private cars to taxis in its offering, I have been pointing out that traditional taxi drivers are fighting a losing battle against private cars that offer better service at lower fares.
Then, smart taxi drivers switched to e-hailing service, and they get to pick up passengers as long as there were no complaints, unlike many cab drivers that prefer to choose trips or fix fares, such as those at the Kelana Jaya LRT station and the Batu Tiga KTM Komuter station.
Taxi passengers switched over in droves to private cars resulting in repeated protests by groups of cabbies calling for action against e-hailing services but received few sympathies from the public while the authorities were laughing up their sleeves at the turn of events.
While training and enforcement on taxi drivers have little or no effect in changing their behaviours over the past decades, success was achieved virtually overnight using technology that keeps drivers on their toes as they are monitored and rated at the end of every trip.
Naturally, recalcitrant cabbies would have none of this, although they could earn much more by running many trips than just waiting indefinitely for passengers, which was already bad before this COVID-19 outbreak.
During prolonged lockdowns, taxi service is as good as dead.
Some taxi drivers refused to accept that the world does not owe them a living and they should just move on.
In the past, politicians gave them empty promises and false hopes. It may seem cruel to say no but leading them out of a low-income trap would have been better and kinder.
If they enjoy working seated behind the wheel, they could have upgraded their driving licence to heavy vehicles and easily find a job driving trailers that provide good and stable income, as most trailer drivers earn between RM5,000 to RM8,000 per month.
But too many taxi drivers are either too stubborn, lazy or undisciplined, and prefer to work whenever or wherever they like.
Sadly, the attitude of underemployed graduates is no better – they would rather work for a pittance instead of driving trailers and earning a decent income.
Article by: Focus Malaysia
HELP LEAD TAXI DRIVERS OUT OF THE LOW-INCOME TRAP
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