Taxi: are cabbies going to get ‘political’ on the gov’t as well?

TRANSIT took note of a very interesting article in Free Malaysia Today, announcing that cab drivers were going to organize a protest on Sunday, 31 July over what is described as government apathy over the issues they have raised.

We have to wonder if this protest, coming so soon after a protest of KTM Railwaymen’s Union members, is a sign that more and more line workers in the transport industry are increasingly frustrated with government inaction.

And we wonder how long it will take before the taxi driver’s also start talking politics … because as most of us know, once you get drivers to start talking about politics … everything comes out.

Cabbies see red over govt’s apathy (Free Malaysia Today)
29 July 2011

B Nantha Kumar

Fed up with the government for ignoring their grievances, 2,000 taxi drivers plan a protest this Sunday.

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Taxi Drivers Welfare Association is planning to hold a massive gathering over the federal government’s failure to address their problems.

The chairman of the association, M Manickam, said taxi drivers in city are angry and fed up with the Barisan Nasional (BN) government for consistently overlooking their grievances.

“Our intention to hold the gathering is to divert the BN’s attention on us and look into our grouses, like social welfare benefits and housing loans, among others,” he said.

Manickam said that the event will take place at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre on July 31, and will be officiated by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu and Puchong MP Gobind Singh are also expected to lend support.

[TRANSIT: Well, that’s obviously political when politicians are getting involved. Especially politicians from the so-called “opposition” (in Selangor the Pakatan Rakyat make up the government)]

Manickam added that more than 2,000 taxi drivers will take part in the gathering.

[TRANSIT: Unless the government declares it an illegal assembly and locks down PJ? Actually, it’s a fair question: do they have a permit for this gathering?]

“On that day, we will also table 10 resolutions urging the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to intervene and help highlight our grouses,” he said.

“Over the last couple of years, the government has failed to help improve the living standard of taxi drivers who have been working under restrictive rules and red tape.

“We want the government to initate Socso benefits, provide housing loans and stop issuing taxi permits to big corporate companies. These are among the resolutions we will table on Sunday,” he told FMT.

TRANSIT Says:

Wow. When we said that taxi drivers were getting political, we weren’t joking, were we?

As we said in the preamble, we know that taxi drivers talk politics on an individual basis. But this may be the first time that we have seen taxi drivers organizing together in what is apparently a very political manner.

After all, the gathering is expected to be officiated by Anwar Ibrahim, with possible support from a number of Pakatan Rakyat notables.

We have to wonder how and why, all of a sudden, the Pakatan Rakyat MPs care about the plight of taxi drivers? Our readers are probably sitting back and wondering, where were these wakil rakyat over the past few years when the rakyat were complaining about taxis? Wasn’t the typical response that ‘transport is a federal responsibility’?

When will the wakil rakyat really and truly step up to improve the standards of public transport, especially in the taxi industry?

TRANSIT has already indicated that local councils should step in and create legal and legitimate local taxi ‘hubs’ in the housing estates and introduce a decent coupon system – rather than leaving us stuck with gangsters and taxicab turf wars. We do not want to see Grand Theft Auto: KL Taxi [referring to the controversial & violent video game] anytime soon.

We haven’t heard back from anyone on our proposals.

By the way, we also note that SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Kemal wrote a letter in The Star, in response to 4 letters published last week about the issues in the taxi industry.

Rebuilding from ground zero (The Star)

Thursday July 28, 2011

WE refer to “Changing taxi drivers” (The Star, July 21) and would like to thank the writer for his observations of the taxi sector in this country.

[TRANSIT: And some good observations they were!]

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) is very aware of the issues besetting the taxi sector, which has resulted in it being one of the most complained about sectors among the various public transport modes.

We would like to take this opportunity to share what is being done to address these issues.

Problems related to taxis are many and varied, from refusing to use the meter or being fussy about who to pick up, to more structural problems such as the lack of mechanisms to monitor driver behaviour or the absence of service standards for the sector.

Recognising this situation, SPAD’s approach to solving the various problems is at a holistic level where the target for any treatment has to be at the root of the problem and not merely its symptoms.

[TRANSIT: Of course, recognizing what is at the root of the problem is one part, and actually taking action is another. And considering the allegations that many at the “root” are rent seekers taking advantage of permits, and many of those are in high places (or have ‘friends’ there) what can SPAD be expected to do?]

Of course, this does not mean that immediate measures such as strict enforcement of laws and rules are not going to be carried out. However, it is SPAD’s view that if the root causes of the problems are not addressed, any action to solve problems will not be sustainable.

The writer was spot on in pointing out that many taxi operators have shirked from playing any role in ensuring that drivers conform to rules and maintain a good level of service.

Many taxi companies merely see themselves as businesses that rent out vehicles to individuals. As long as rental is paid to the company, there is very much a hands-off approach to the relationship.

[TRANSIT: Is this the only “root” of the problems in the taxi industry? Or the only one that SPAD is able/willing to tackle for the moment?]

With the new Land Public Transport Act 2010, the Government has moved to address this situation by changing to operator-based licensing.

With a lot more to lose should action be taken against them as an entity rather than the individual vehicles or drivers, public transport operators – whether taxi, bus or of freight vehicles – will quickly see the merit of introducing strict controls over their drivers and vehicles.

[TRANSIT: Spell out what they have to lose. And make sure that there is a mechanism in place that makes this specific…should operators not impose strict controls over their drivers and vehicles.]

This will also enable operator-based licensing conditions to be introduced to mould good practices for our public transport operators.

[TRANSIT: Why should we wait? Why can’t we, the rakyat, and you, SPAD (the regulator) expect the operators to implement good practices themselves? Why isn’t (for example) RapidKL introducing policies to clearly reward and punish drivers? We need these “role-model” GLC companies to take the lead and raise up a standard for others to emulate.]

With rules and regulations imposed as conditions for issuing a licence strictly enforced, a company’s management will end up becoming more effective enforcers of the law than enforcement officers. This ultimately will translate to better service to commuters.

SPAD has already started the process of licence migration. The current licensing re-registration exercise is the first step in the journey towards better public transport.

[TRANSIT: What about de-registration? What is SPAD’s plan for dealing with unused/unrenewed/pajaked/illegally renewed/abused etc. commercial vehicle permits?]

This move to strengthen the regulatory mechanism will be coupled with the beefing up of enforcement through higher fines for serious offences, and a larger, and more efficient, enforcement team.

In the longer term, SPAD’s role as planner and policy-maker for public transport in the country will ensure better development of public transport services to serve the mobility needs of people.

There will also be focus on the human capital aspect of the industry, where drivers can be turned into professionals with visible career paths and good prospects.

In the immediate term, SPAD will continue enforcement activities to curb problems such as touting, refusal to use taxi meters and a whole list of other offences. These activities will be boosted gradually as a highly-trained and well-equipped professional enforcement force is built.

SPAD would like to appeal for public patience and support as it resiliently pushes for a holistic transformation of the public transport industry.

[TRANSIT: We think it would be a lot easier for SPAD to get public patience and support if they told us of their plans and asked the public for feedback. Why not put some discussion papers / plans up on your website and ask for public feedback?]

The ultimate environment which SPAD hopes to create is one where operators and drivers can thrive by serving the public with the best levels of service and without needing to resort to any underhand tactics or short cuts.

Only then will the rakyat get a public transport system which they can rely on and use without fear for their safety or of being ripped off.

MOHD NUR KAMAL,
Chief Executive Officer, SPAD.


TRANSIT Says:

Notice how Mohd Nur Kemal explains how he understands the problem, and asks for time to resolve the issues and put his solutions into place? Notice that what is actually missing are the solutions themselves. Sure, there is talk about the various offences that are going to be punished and a promise of a built-up enforcement team.

What is lacking are the specific details about what is going to be done.

Now, we understand that Mohd Nur Kamal is probably in a tough position and has to keep some of the details silent for fear of losing the ability to take action and meeting with large-scale resistance.

However, Mohd. Nur Kamal and SPAD must realize that they have the public on their side – at least, the public will be solidly on their side if and when they are involved in this holistic transformation of the industry … and when they start to see the results.

Appealing for public patience is fine … but Mohd. Nur Kamal should be appealing for public support … both in information about errant commercial vehicle operators as well as feedback about how the public transport system can be improved.

If SPAD is not going to ask the rakyat to be a part of this transformation, then we must ask on their behalf … whether they happen to like it or not.

So ladies and gentlemen … SPAD needs your complaints and they need your feedback. And so do we.

SPAD CUSTOMER FEEDBACK LINE 1800-889-600

SMS SPAD Aduan to 15888
Email to aduan@spad.gov.my
http://spad.gov.my/complaint.php
http://spad.gov.my/enquiry.php

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Headquarters,
Level 19, 1 Sentral, Jalan Travers,
Kuala Lumpur Sentral,
50470, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel No: 03 – 2268 5782
Fax No: 03 – 2272 3744

Commercial Vehicles

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Putrajaya,
Aras 4, Blok Podium, No. 18,
Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62652 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Tel No: 03 – 8880 5500
Fax No: 03 – 8880 5621

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Central Region,
Aras 4, Blok Podium, No. 18,
Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62652 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Tel No: 03 – 8880 5500
Fax No: 03 – 8880 5621

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Northern Region,
Lot 173 dan 174,
Taman Ria Jaya, Jalan Kelab Cinta Sayang,
08000 Sungai Petani,
Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia.
Tel No: 04 – 4485 130
Fax No: 04 – 4485 110

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Eastern Region,
Wisma LPKP, Lot 2182, Jalan Bukit Kecil,
21100 Kuala Terengganu,
Terengganu Darul Iman, Malaysia.
Tel No: 09 – 624 1111 / 09 – 626 1616
Fax No: 09 – 622 8996

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Southern Region,
Lot 391, KM 7.2, Parit Bunga, Jalan Tangkak,
84000 Muar,
Johor Darul Takzim, Malaysia.
Tel No: 06 – 955 6000
Fax No: 06 – 955 6008

Railways

Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Railways,
Aras 13, Menara Dayabumi,
Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
50050 Kuala Lumpur
No. Tel : 03-22781222
No. Fax : 03-22721900

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