Yesterday (30/1/15 Fri) @1115 hrs, I brought out my taxi from Sin Ming workshop. That same morning, my night relief Alan Taxi sent in for repair @0100 hrs. The screeching sound when applying brakes was so intolerable that he had to send in the taxi for repair. Even passengers complained about the irritating sound. In fact, the problem surfaced 2 days ago but the sound was intermittently soft. I was thinking that since the monthly preventive servicing was scheduled on yesterday afternoon, I thought I would just inform the workshop when it’s sent in. But then it was not to be.
Since my taxi started running on 5 Aug 2014, barely 5 months plus, it already clocked more than 90,000km! It’s been running 24/7 with more than 500km mileage each day. The wear and tear of the taxi is tremendously stressed especially when we are rushing to beat the within 10 mins current calls booking time line to pick up passengers. Thus, the workshop changed the entire brake discs and even the brake plates. Even the rear tires were changed to a brand new set.
When I took out the vehicle @1115 hrs, I could feel the vast difference. They informed me that they had already serviced the vehicle by changing to top grade engine oil only fit for Euro5 engine! It was so smooth and the braking system was perfect. Time to hit the roads then.
My first passenger after leaving Sin Ming workshop was to fetch a family from Bishan St 22 to City Furama hotel at Havelock Sq. Took the Braddel Rd to CTE and exited at Havelock Rd. Previously, I could just turn in to City Furama Hotel (that’s the place where my brother got married more than 15 yrs ago!) just after the exit at Havelock Rd. But due to the on-going construction, the whole place is blocked. The whole carpark in front of the Subordinate and Family courts is blocked. I had to make my way to Eu Tong Sen Street via New Bridge Road by negotiating an U-turn by keeping to the extreme left after the red color whole day bus lane before turning in to Havelock Sq to drop off my passengers at the hotel.
The traffic condition was really havoc. It was jammed around the vicinity of Chinatown. Due to the coming CNY (about 2 weeks’ time), jam is definitely expected there. But then the jam is exacerbated by road re-surfacing just in front of Chinatown MRT NE4 station. Maybe, they are preparing for today’s road closure when VIPs will officially declare Chinatown lights up? Only one lane was passable at New Bridge Road with road re-surfacing going on under the scorching mid-day sun and I pity those foreign workers having a difficult time doing their work and at the same time controlling the tons of traffic with incessant horning. Why did they decide to re-surface the road at the last minute? Why not do it at night which they usually do in a busy thoroughfare? Those questions kept running on my mind when I was stuck in the seemingly endless jam. Like they say, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen would go out in the midday sun!” Click here for explanation.
From Furuma Hotel having dropped my passengers I got another pax. From then on, it was continuously non-stop until I ended up at Chinatown Point again. From Chinatown Point, I managed to pick up a male passenger to AMK Ave 5. Took the CTE via Havelock and headed straight north exited at AMK Ave 5 all the way to Blk 151 AMK Ave 5 drop off point. That was my 6th trip and it’s about 1345 hrs when I dropped off my passenger there. I decided to take a short break by clearing the rear floor mats and adjusting them to proper position. It’s good to stretch my limbs after driving continuously for about 3 hrs.
Suddenly the unexpected happened …. My taxi was hit by a van parked in front of me. KNN! What a langger situation!
My statement ..
” I stopped my taxi at the drop-off point in front of Blk 151, AMK Ave 5 towards YCK for my male passenger to alight.
After my passenger left, I decided to take a short break instead of continue driving.
I then got out of the cabin and stood at the walkway where I took a cursory look at the surroundings.
Meanwhile, the video camera mounted in my taxi was on as I did not turn off the car engine.
Then a freak happening took place when the van GBB XXXX parked in front of me rolled backwards towards my taxi. I watched helplessly as there was no way to stop the van from hitting my taxi.
The van was parked about 2 car length in front of my taxi before it rolled backwards towards my taxi.
The occurrence of the accident was completely recorded in the in-car video.”
The accident happened at about 1350 hrs. This is the first time I met with an accident. After few calls to my taxi brethren on the procedures etc and the company workshop, I was strongly advised to drive the taxi to Loyang workshop for repairs even the kind gentleman of the van admitted his carelessness of not engaging the handbrake and offered to repair my taxi plus reasonable compensation for my loss of income.
On the same day, @1500 hrs, the taxi was garaged at Loyang Workshop rooftop joining the ranks of countless accident & damaged taxis. I was told that the taxi will be ready for collection either on Tues or Wed. In the meantime, I am taking a deserved break. I need not pay the $132 daily rental when the taxi is in the workshop. I’ll be compensated with $80 for the loss of income per day. Share it with my night relief driver, it’s only $40 per person! My takings for the 3 hrs of driving from 1115 hrs to 1345 hrs on that fateful day came to about $59.50! Not even enough to pay my $66 rental for the day.
When I asked around, veteran cabby Ricky Martin told me that since the year 2005 when he started driving taxi, it’s already $80 per day for loss of income. Fast forward to today after 10 yrs, it’s still $40 per driver ($80 divide by 2 drivers). It just doesn’t make sense at all. Security guard on a 12-hour shift is earning between $70 to $90 a day if you include CPF, annual leave, bonus and paid MC. In other words, taxi drivers are worst than a normal security guard. Taxi drivers are the lowest in the entire food chain when we are supposed to be ambassadors of the country since we frequently pick up tourists. How to improve the professional image of taxi drivers when our income is officially set at only $40 for a 12-hour shift? Indeed, taxi drivers are a neglected lot.
On hindsight, I should have taken the offer by that kind van driver. It’s a win-win situation for both of us. I’ll get a better compensation package from him and he will not be penalized when he renews his car insurance. After all, who cares or speak up for our welfare? We’ll have to fend for ourselves just to eke out a decent living in this 1st world country where everything is number 1 except that our taxi industry is never on the number 1 list if you compare us to other world class cities like London, New York, Tokyo or even Hong Kong! I guess, we just will have to accept our miserable fate. That’s the life of a taxi driver here.