Govt issues more individual taxi licences

The initiative to issue individual licences will help drivers improve their earnings, says minister

By KEVIN WONG / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) recently issued an additional 174 individual taxi permits as part of its effort to reduce drivers’ dependence on the leasing system practiced by taxi companies.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the initiative to issue individual licences would help drivers improve their earnings.

As it is, half of the taxi drivers’ earnings are used to settle their loans, on top of the other expenses including insurance and maintenance, as well as the regular inspections that must be adhered to.

Loke said the individual permits would also allow the cabbies to have a fair playing field.

“At the same time, we want to guide them to upgrade and adopt technologies such as e-hailing as this would help them to stay on top of the game,” he said at the handover ceremony of approval letters for individual taxi licence in Kuala Lumpur.

He said taxi drivers now have the flexibility to use both the e-hailing and traditional street hailing methods.

In the long run, individual licences may also reduce rogue cabbies issue, which Loke said could stem from the stress created by the leasing system.

“With issuance of the individual licence, we hope it will increase the industry’s competitiveness as it is essential that taxi drivers are given a better deal.

“This is one of the reasons why we are introducing this individual licence as it encourages them to improve their services, as well as their income,” he said.

Besides issuing individual permits to cabbies, SPAD is giving out cash grants worth RM5,000 and other initiatives to help reduce their expenses.

“Instead of having their taxis inspected every six months, it is now once a year. At the same time, we will be providing some skills development, while encouraging more taxi associations to adopt the e-hailing technology or to bring up their own initiatives, which can provide growth and development for the industry,” Loke said.

He added that the taxi industry must be forward looking towards technologies as they might end up losing businesses as consumers today have more options.

To date, 2,729 individual licences have been issued to cabbies who have opted out of the leasing system.

Of the total, 721 drivers are also qualified to receive the government’s cash grant of RM5,000.

Based on SPAD’s record, there are about 14,000 cabbies still contracted to taxi companies via the leasing system.