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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cabbies live from hand to mouth

WITH reference to the letter “Cabbies have a hard time making a living,” (Sunday Star, April 11), the writer was spot on that the average income of taxi drivers range from RM1,500 to RM1,800 per month.

In my presentation to the Malaysia Productivity Corporation in 2008, I have worked out that their average income range from RM1,117 for those working 24 days a month to RM1,717 for those working every day.

Since then, there has been an increase in meter rates for budget taxis by 32% for distance travelled and 114% for time clocked.

The number of taxis on the road has also gone up after the fare increase in August 2009.

I have been driving a taxi since June 2000 and will not recommend anyone who wishes to raise a family to choose it as their livelihood.

In London, black cab drivers earn between RM42,000 and RM56,000 a month.

A Finnish taxi driver who was one of my passengers only has to work for six months and can afford to travel the rest of the year.

Malaysian taxi drivers virtually live from hand to mouth and is best described by a Malay proverb “Kais pagi, makan pagi; kais petang, makan petang”.

Taxi drivers tend to splurge during good months instead of saving for rainy days.

They suffer a double whammy when they have to pay for major mechanical or accident repairs coupled with the loss of income.

As such, they are easy prey for loan sharks.

Once they fall behind in payments for rental purchase to the taxi company or hire purchase to the bank and with Ah Longs breathing down their necks, their struggle for survival will unfortunately be at the expense of unlucky passengers.

However, it is still wrong to lump all taxi drivers in the same boat, as the public tend to treat them, including the honest ones, with scorn.

Caring passengers like the writer from Penang can induce them to provide a better service.

One of the reasons why enforcement of errant taxi drivers has not been effective stems from the fact that CVLB paints all taxi drivers with the same stroke.

The CVLB director was reported to have said “If they are budak baik (good boys), we don’t need to come up with the sticker rules”.

They should instead target the unscrupulous drivers who are like touts who park their taxis by the roadside at popular areas such as KLCC in Kuala Lmpur.

Some taxi drivers who station their cars near nightspots are opportunistic pimps.

Used to earning easy money, they also tend to fix the fare at several times more than the meter rate to rip off passengers.

CVLB does not have to take measures against all the 31,000 taxi drivers.

Their 100 enforcement officers are more than sufficient to catch the hard cores operating in full view of the public.

Publicising specific actions taken against errant taxi drivers through various newspapers will be an effective deterrent for the rest of the cabbies to fall in line.

Kuala Lumpur

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