By Hafidz Baharom
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — A protest by taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang shopping district this week wanting their summonses forgiven has brought attention to the litany of complaints by them and passengers who feel fleeced in one of the most-visited cities in the world.
The taxi drivers have demanded the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to erase all summonses issued by the various enforcement authorities to ease the renewal process of their taxi driver cards. But most media are carrying reports that these group of city taxi drivers are charging higher rates for short distances and not using their meters.
“They (taxi drivers) asked for a total wipe out of all their recorded summonses from the database,” SPAD communication manager Noor Hisham Mohd Taha told ------------The Malaysian Insider.
He said the demand was made by representatives from the Association of Bestari Taxi Drivers of Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang (Bestari) last Wednesday in a meeting with SPAD, a day after the protest.
“We have a centralised database along with other authorities such as KL City Hall (DBKL) and the Land Transport Department (JPJ), so even if they have a summons from any one of these authorities they won’t be able to renew their cards,” Noor Hisham said.
When asked if SPAD thought this demand was valid, Noor Hisham refused to comment but said “We will try to settle this matter amicably. We don’t want to be confrontational.”
He added that the commission is still looking for a suitable date to discuss Bestari’s demands with the other authorities.
Another complaint by the taxi drivers is the introduction of the Go-KL buses, a free intra-city service used by office workers and also tourists.
SPAD Chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar told The Malaysian Insider that the Go-KL buses was not intended to deny revenue to taxis.
“This facility was introduced for the convenience of the public to move within city limits.
“It was never intended to deny the taxis their livelihood or to take away their passengers. If they are not happy or concern about its effects SPAD will be quite happy to sit down to discuss with them,” Syed Hamid said.
Last Tuesday, nearly 200 drivers protested on Jalan Bukit Bintang, choking up the KL main street from 3.00pm until 7.30 pm.
Their chief complaint was the continued inaction by the commission to address issues such as the free Go-KL bus service, heavy handed treatment by SPAD officers and continued issuing of taxi permits.
“We want a more transparent system so that we can own taxi permits instead of having to pay rental to a third party.
“We also want the lopsided agreements between these companies and individual taxi drivers reviewed,” taxi driver S Murugesan was quoted as saying in a media report.
There are nearly 80,000 taxis in Malaysia with most of them plying Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang areas.