Since MOT spoke about the need to look into some of the valid complaints by orthodox taxi drivers on his blog post dated 2 Oct 15 – which I also touched on when I blogged about the importance of taxi vocational license, taxi has become a hot topic hogging the headlines almost every other day! Some of the recent taxi cases hitting the headlines include 2 “seow char bo” using high heel shoe to hit an old taxi driver or some ang mo punching taxi driver over parking space etc. Just recently, we heard that LTA imposed thousands of dollars fines on taxi operators (except CDG taxis) not able to meet LTA’s KPI.
The evening “mosquito” papers are always quick to highlight any story about taxi. When Uber went around the taxi stands to tout for passengers, they put it on their front page to catch readers’ eyeballs. When our ex-general went around talking to “stakeholders” in the taxi industry, they were also quick to print the story. As such, we could say that taxi is one hot local topic generating much debate.
As the taxi debate rages on generating so much controversy in the social media on FB, twitters and blogs that even main stream media also jumping into the bandwagon, LTA still remains silent. Not a single statement or whimper made to date. LTA just prefers to stay at the sidelines watching the taxi drama unfolding.
As I watch the taxi drama unfolding before my eyes, I note that the debate about our taxi drivers could get emotional. For example I read one ang mo describing our local taxi drivers as the worst cab drivers in the world. From start to finish on his article, he was bashing our taxi drivers incessantly like no tomorrow saying things such as he could not get taxi during changing shifts and that taxi drivers always ask which way to go? Which actually he’s asking for your preferred route!
Everything is the taxi driver’s fault notwithstanding the 101 rules set by LTA which orthodox taxi drivers need to adhere when operating their taxis. One example he cited is that he could not get taxis at ION but lots of taxis at Wisma Atria after 5pm due to the extra $3 city charge. Yup a few dollars matter a lot to taxi drivers. Who doesn’t want the extra cash? Blame LTA for setting the rule instead of the poor taxi drivers.
As far as I’m concerned every tourist I ferried praises our taxi drivers for their professionalism and integrity! Our taxi drivers are so much better than many countries in the region. Not sure why this expatriate hates our taxi drivers so much? He had nothing positive to say about our taxi drivers.
Alas! NTA has spoken and a formal letter with the following list of recommendations to MOT! Still LTA prefers to keep quiet. Silence is golden as they say.
1. Assurance of commuters’ Safety and Security
2. Ensure Fair Competition amongst service providers offering point-to-point transfers
3. Embrace new technology and evolve business model for Greater Efficiency on the use of our transport assets
Let’s look at the latest taxi hot news hitting headlines. Recently, there was this elderly Uber driver got assaulted by the duty LTA officer when he tried to snap pictures of the said Uber driver picking up pax at Bugis taxi stand. I saw the video on social media that went viral. As usual, my mentor Lohcifer – the self-proclaimed taxi expert had this to say when he WhatsApp me with the news story.
“My two cents’ worth:
(1) Passenger is a moron for asking Uber driver to pick her from taxi stand. She’s the same idiot who posted a video of the altercation online. Sigh, too many stupid people walking around with smart phones posting videos of perceived wrongs. If you have the balls, stop the fight or right the wrongs, instead of posting videos to social media and hoping wrongdoers will be shamed. What a cop-out mentality!
(2) Uber driver should have known better – he rents a regular car each day to be a Uber driver, so he jolly well knows he’s not a taxi driver, and he’s not supposed to pick up anyone at taxi stands.
(3) According to Sunday Times report, driver actually provoked LTA officer to book him.
(4) LTA officer struck the first blow was provided by a cleaning service. Ramky Cleantech Services outsource their cleaners to LTA to become enforcement officers? What the fuck?! Not even rent-a-cop, more like rent-a-cowboy-wannabe. How was this allowed to happen? Bastard needs anger management training, among other shit. And the head of whoever agreed to such an arrangement ought to roll.”
I ever fetched one middle aged local Chinese lady who lived in the US for quite some time. She decided to return home after her retirement. She had her own car but she used taxis whenever her car broke down. She told me that she used Uber twice in the US. It’s quite common over there. The first time was a professor from the university and the second time a doctor! I could not believe what she told me. Yup, they used their luxury cars to fetch pax via Uber 3rd party app. Reason being that those professionals drive Uber to de-stress and to meet interesting people. That’s the difference between our Uber drivers and them. Co-incidentally, our good natured and ever cool DPM recently has been talking about job respectability.
Just 2 weeks ago, in our taxi WhatsApp group our members have been discussing about the morning taxi talk show hosted by FM 95.8. It seems that the radio station had invited one local professor to the Mandarin radio talk. According to the professor (I did not say that), our government’s level of competency has dropped! Why let so many 3rd party taxi apps inundate the taxi industry then only they decide to do something about it? Why didn’t they foresee the issues and problems created as a result of the laissez-faire attitude adopted by LTA – pls refer to NTA’s letter of recommendations. The good professor went on to say might as well leave it as it is then. Why now only they start looking at those issues plaguing the taxi industry?
The thing that struck us in the WhatsApp taxi group is what the learned professor said is that this government is always fire-fighting. They failed to nip the problem at the bud. Think about the controversy when RWS sent out free buses to the HDB heartlands to ferry gamblers to their casino. That led to lots of hue and cry. Why did LTA allow such nonsense and then decided to scrap those free buses? What about those private schools mushrooming leading to lots of foreign students being swindled tons of school fees then only the relevant authority decided to act by regulating those private learning institutions? Why didn’t they foresee the problems in the first place? We wonder what those in authority were doing all these while? I would say it amounted to gross negligence and dereliction of duty! Surely it affects our aspiration to be an education hub in the region when such malpractices happened losing our brand name & reputation to foreign students.
Like what our learned professor said on FM95.8 radio talk show, the same is repeating in our taxi industry. As we speak now, the taxi industry is dominated by the orthodox and unorthodox players running parallel on 2 sets of rules. Actually, one set of rules meant for licensed taxi drivers and no rules for the other group of 3rd party apps drivers! What a langgar situation we are stuck now. Our MOT realized such a langgar predicament. That is why he blogged about the taxi industry on the 2nd Oct 15 – two days after he was sworn in to office!
Let’s see whether our brilliant MOT could solve this persistent taxi irritant where it has become the talking point in almost every channel of media whether on the print media, social media or on air! We shall await eagerly for his slew of solutions to these seemingly unsolvable taxi issues since time immemorial!