TRANSIT took note of this article, detailing complaints from a group of taxi drivers about being struck out from getting passengers at KLCC thanks to a new mall parking policy – and claiming assault by representatives of the taxi concessionaire at KLCC.
TRANSIT profiled the introduction of the taxi concessionaire in this post last year on 4 November 2010 that questioned the idea of legalizing the exorbitant prices charged by taxi drivers by introducing the coupon system.
Not 2 months later this is what we see:
Taxi drivers claim assault, abuse (Streets-NST)
By C. Premananthini
KUALA LUMPUR: A group of taxi drivers from the Taxi Drivers Welfare Association Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are unhappy at being stopped from picking up passengers at the entrance of Suria KLCC.
Presently, a policy that only allows Awana Sutera Sdn Bhd taxis to pick up passengers from the mall is in place. It was implemented after numerous complaints were lodged against taxi drivers refusing to use the meter and charging exorbitant flat rates.
[TRANSIT: These exorbitant flat rates were then replaced by exorbitant coupon rates – often times nearly as high or higher as the original exorbitant flat rates – plus surcharge].
Association chairman Manickam Massappu claimed that some members who recently picked up passengers in front of the mall were attacked by a group of non-uniformed security men.
“These men were behaving like bouncers. They assaulted four of our taxi drivers on different occasions by kicking the taxis and hurling abusive words to chase them away. One was physically hurt and he received stitches on his forehead,” said Manickam.
He said the four victims had filed police reports on the incidents.
Police have detained three men, believed to be bouncers, to assist in investigations.
Taxi driver, Phua Teoh Bin, 53, said his taxi was kicked when he tried to pick up passengers in front of the mall.
“A group of five or six people approached my taxi as I was about to pick up the passengers and chased me away. They kicked my taxi. It was quite scary. I had to fork out RM600 to repair the damage,” said Phua.
[TRANSIT: Imagine how the passengers might have felt…]
He said he had to drive away quickly to avoid any untoward incident. He, too, filed a police report.
Another taxi driver, Ram Bahadur Gharti, 47, said his taxi was also kicked when he tried to pick up passengers at Suria KLCC. He left the scene and filed a report at the Dang Wangi police station.
Manickam is calling for an investigation into the matter. He claimed that the men are employed by Awana Sutera and seemed to be taking matters into their own hands.
“The CVLB (Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board) representative did not turn up for a meeting with us even though we had requested for her presence.
“We are requesting for another meeting with CVLB and Awana Sutera to discuss the issue. If they fail to respond, we will have to take the matter to the higher authorities,” he said.
He added that the association was not happy with Awana Sutera’s monopoly of taxi services at Suria KLCC.
He said for them to pick up passengers from the mall, they had to pay a RM50 monthly fee for a sticker that allows them access to passengers there.
“Why should we pay so much just to pick up passengers here when our permits allow us to pick up passengers anywhere in the city?” he asked.
[TRANSIT: Technically, the KLCC taxi stands at the service road before Jalan Ampang are on KLCC property. Whereas, the KLCC taxi stands on Jalan P. Ramlee (usually occupied by tour buses) are on a public road.]
Awana Sutera chief operating officer Datuk Sham Ismail Tom said the company had employed enforcement personnel to ensure that unauthorised taxi drivers did not pick up passengers from the mall.
“I have been informed that when they tell the taxi drivers that they can’t pick up passengers here, the taxi drivers would hurl abuse at my men. We also found out that the taxi driver who claimed that he was assaulted, has also many police reports made against him.
“Our internal report showed that when he was told to leave, he left, only to return later and start a fight with our men,” he said.
First of all, we have to state that this is not funny at all. Everyone is losing, including this student forced to pay higher cab fare at new terminal.
So please, hold back on the temptation to laugh or think ‘serves you right’ because we have a serious problem here!
Of course if you want to think ‘now you have an idea of what passengers have to deal with’ we have no problem with that thought.
Now, it’s not that TRANSIT is trying to control your thoughts. We are just trying to express the feeling of frustration with the whole industry, rather than just a certain group of taxi drivers.
And as before, our frustration centres around the CVLB – which clearly does not have a plan or the ability to create consistent, sensible policies and enforce these policies on the ground.
It is an absolute shame that public complaints about the charging of flat rates by taxi drivers (whether exorbitant or not) have gone totally misunderstood.
Instead of requiring drivers to fulfill the expectations of the permits, CVLB has simply licensed the extortion, by sanctioning the coupon system.
And by licensing the extortion through the coupon system, CVLB is indirectly licensing the ‘protective’ actions that have been described above – which are clearly going over the line.
Auxiliary police are already present at KLCC – how long will it be before thuggish behaviour by taxi drivers / agents on both sides gets even further out of hand?
What makes it worse is that the CVLB is not in charge of the taxi system in Peninsular Malaysia as soon as SPAD takes over. Unfortunately, there is no clear indication of SPAD’s plans as soon as they start up.
And in the vacuum of authority, who knows how much worse things are going to get?