TAXI drivers in Kuala Lumpur are pleading for help with many left without a single sen of income since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.
With promised one-off government financial aid payments of RM600 per taxi driver yet to be received and virtually no passengers to transport during this period, even the exemption for taxis to operate between 8am and 10pm is a futile policy.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Juara 5 Indian Taxi Drivers’ Association deputy president M. Logendhrien said the situation is getting more and more desparate by the day for more than 200 members of his association alone, and so is the rest in the industry.
“It is very serious. Many of us are suffering. The government aid so far has not been received and we were told that only those who had BSN accounts have received their money. The process is also confusing,” said Logendhrien.
“Even so, when we get the RM600 promised by the government, it will only help a bit as it may cover rental for 10 days. Our situation is worse than that. Most taxi drivers have had absolutely no income for many days now. There is this exemption for taxis to operate from 8am to 10pm, but you have to understand that there are no passengers because of the lockdown and everyone is at home,” he said.
Logendhrien said the taxi drivers have relied on Batu MP P. Prabakaran and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s offices for food and essential items since the MCO began, but with many bills left unpaid the situation has become dire.
Prabakaran called on the government to seriously look into the plight of taxi drivers and make necessary extensions to policies introduced as part of the economic stimulus package.
“The government announced a RM600 one-off aid payment to taxi drivers and tour guides under Bantuan Prihatin Nasional economic stimulus package. But how many have benefitted so far? Reports we received show many taxi drivers have yet to receive much needed help,” said Prabakaran.
“I support and welcome aid for these people, but the people need more welfare assistance at the same time. The Makcik Kiah situation is not the same as another family’s. The RM600 assistance to taxi drivers can only be used to pay for rent or rent permit for 10 days only. The permit fee for taxi drivers is RM60 per day. Private taxi permit holders pay between RM280-RM300 a week to the company vehicle credit lenders (hire purchase).”
Prabakaran called on the government to swiftly look into a solution so as to avoid a escalation of the already dire situation faced by taxi drivers.
“The government has also announced the moratorium on bank loan repayment for the convenience of the people, but this plan should also give the borrower an advantage. This includes payment of vehicle installments with a private credit companies. Many taxis permits are private hire vehicles with a repayment of about RM1,100 per month. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport through Bank Negara Malaysia should provide the same flexibility for taxi operators who use hire purchase services from non-bank private companies.
“Taxi drivers still bear daily, weekly or monthly rentals even today, 90% of their passengers are no longer going out according in accordance to the Movement Control Order (MCO) guidelines. This is just part of the difficulties faced by taxi drivers, excluding maintenance, family situations, personal debts, food, safety and protection against the Covid 19 outbreak,” said Prabakaran.