English World

SPAD lifeline for cab drivers

KUALA LUMPUR: Taxi drivers who feel oppresed by the current pajak or taxi rental system will be given a way out by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) under a plan approved by the Cabinet last week.

Not only do they stand a chance to apply for individual taxi licences, some may even be given RM5,000 as seed money to buy their own taxis. To further sweeten the deal, they would also have a choice of purchasing vehicles other than Proton to be turned into taxis.

At a press conference here yesterday, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said there were conditions.

“The drivers must not have any criminal record or be bankrupts,” he said, adding that priority would be given to those with a good track record.

“What the Government has done is provide flexibility. Once their term (with the rental system) ends, the drivers will be entitled to apply for a new licence,” he said.

In a statement later, SPAD said the registration for qualified applicants will begin on Sept 1.

These are among two of the 11 initiatives under the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme (TITP) that entailed lengthy negotiations between various stakeholders, including the Road Transport Department and the Finance Ministry.

On the proliferation of e-hailing services, SPAD acknowledged they were here to stay, and added that regulating them was the way to go.

“Once amendments to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 are done, it will be mandatory for companies that offer e-hailing services to be incorporated in Malaysia,” said Syed Hamid.

By then, all e-hailing drivers will be required to have a Drivers’ Card issued by SPAD, said SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah.

“SPAD’s mandate is to create a level playing field for all,” said Mohd Azharuddin as he fended off claims that SPAD was favouring e-hailing service companies.

Under the new regime, even taxi drivers can drive for e-hailing services, where they would also have the option to charge using the demand-based fare structures typically used by e-hailing services.

“We want to be able to have a dynamic fare structure where current taxi drivers won’t suffer,” he said.

At a separate briefing earlier for stakeholders by SPAD, taxi drivers and industry players lashed out at the TITP, saying it would only kill the industry in the near future.

Big Blue Taxi chief executive officer Datuk Shamsulbahrin Ismail urged the Government to push SPAD to improve its enforcement regime against rogue cabbies and unlicensed ride providers.

“There is nothing new in the 11 initiatives that SPAD briefed us. Put Uber on hold first. We’re not saying no approval at all, but approval should not be given now.

“I am disappointed as enforcement was not highlighted in the initiatives,” he told reporters after a closed-door session.

He also suggested that SPAD invest in an e-hailing application, and manage the app in such a way that taxi drivers could also benefit from it.

“SPAD can control everything from setting the rules and rates. Nobody can say anything,” he said.

Echoing Shamsulbahrin, Klang Valley Taxi Drivers’ Action Committee president Zailani Isa Usuluddin also called for Uber and GrabCar to cease operations until there were laws to regulate e-hailing services.-thestar

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