Taxi drivers block KL roads over GrabCar’s RM1 promo
KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Some 500 taxi drivers staged another strike, blocking roads and causing congestion in the city centre as their protests against ride-hailing application services intensified.
The cabbies drove in convoys and gathered at several locations including KLCC, KL Sentral, Istana Budaya and even parked their vehicles along the busy Jalan Tun Razak near Lembaga Tabung Haji headquarters, blocking at least two lanes in the process.
The cab drivers were upset over the RM1 ride promotion by GrabCar. The week-long promotion, which started on Thursday and ends on Wednesday, see GrabCar passengers travel for RM1 for the first five kilometres.
The episode left motorists fuming as a similar protest took place on March 29 where taxi drivers lined their vehicles along the road and blocked two of the three-lane Jalan Bukit Bintang near Pavilion, causing a traffic standstill.
They had also wanted to pass a memorandum expressing their concerns to either Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
Association for the Transformation of Malaysian Taxi Drivers (Persim) deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain said the promotion was “unfair”.
“We are already losing businesses to GrabCar and Uber. Such promotions will further damage the industry,” he said.
“We gathered as we cannot tolerate the fact that the authorities are allowing such ride-hailing application services to continue operating. Drivers of such services do not even have the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence,” he said, adding that taxi drivers are scrutinised and undergo tests before they are given a PSV licence.
Kamarudin said taxi drivers had disseminated news of the gathering through WhatsApp.
“I only found out in the morning and immediately joined the other drivers. We were supposed to gather at KLCC but we were asked to leave the area by police. We then moved to other areas.”
Several taxi drivers gathered at KLCC at 6.30pm, blocking two lanes, but dispersed some 15 minutes later following police presence.
Klang Valley Taxi Drivers Action Committee president Zailani Isa Usuluddin said they were left with no option but to protest as concerns raised were dismissed by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
“The memorandum states everything we want. We want changes and we want it now,” he said.
“SPAD keeps telling us to give them more time but it is unacceptable. Maybe they forget we have families to feed and bills to pay.”
He warned the authorities that the city would be soon be devoid of taxis if the matter remains unresolved.
“If nothing is done, we will ditch our vehicles and become Uber and GrabCar drivers instead.”
Taxi driver Badrul Shah Ikram, 39, said the protest was significant as they were pushing the authorities to regulate ride-hailing application services.
“We are seeking for fair treatment from the authorities. It must be a level-playing field,” he said.
“Those providing such services must understand there are rules to follow.”
Another driver Saiful Omar Bakri, 48, urged the authorities to take proactive measures to address the issue.
“We demand for a hands-on approach. We want the authorities to talk to us,” he said.
It is insane for the authorities to continue to allow these taxi people to hold the nation at ransom. The police are inept and useless as this has been happening time and time again. Better the IGP resign as he seems good only in apprehending opposition politicians, so-called cyber offenders, and other small offenders, but these taxi drivers - he seem afraid of them. Arrest them and send tow trucks to tow away their vehicles. Send a decisive message to them. Blocking roads now, WHAT will they think of doing NEXT. Set fire to rivals' cars and private cars also!