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Taxi drivers should stop their moaning

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 22 August 2016

By Y S CHAN

TAXI DRIVERS are the most demanding self-employed people in this country, no thanks to politicians trying to win their votes and media reporting their antics.

For decades, they complain of paying high daily rentals to taxi companies, forgetting that they are not forced to pay several thousand ringgit as down payment for a taxi.

If not for the ‘pajak’ system, thousands of taxi drivers would not get to drive taxis. Instead of being grateful, they choose to blame taxi companies for their woes.

Payments to taxi companies include rental of the permit for around RM20 per day. The balance is for the rental-purchase of vehicle plus road tax, motor insurance and inspection fees.

Therefore, the daily rate used for calculation is normally between RM50 – RM60 per day for a Proton Saga or Persona, and installments vary according to the term.

Those who pay installments on time are given one rental-free day per month, in addition to two days a year for Puspakom inspections, and two days for celebrating a major festival.

The daily rate is just a simple way to calculate repayments and to placate the drivers that they get to enjoy 16 rental-free days a year, but all these are costed in.

When I drove a budget taxi for 6 years, I went to the taxi company only once a month to pay the installments.

Taxi drivers are the only group of self-employed that complain they do not enjoy EPF and Socso coverage, and unashamedly demand these benefits from taxi companies, forgetting that they are customers and not employees.

As the taxis are owned and maintained by them, they get to keep and do whatever they like. Upon settlement of the rental-purchase, ownership is transferred to them, just as banks release the ownership claim upon settlement of hire-purchase loans.

Cabbies can then choose to continue operating the same vehicle as taxi by renting the permit, or sell it off to raise the down payment for a new taxi.

My taxi company paid RM9,000 for my six-year-old Proton Iswara taxi, which was used by another driver for another four years.

Recently, the Malaysia Taxi Drivers’ Coalition called on the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to discuss with the International Trade and Industry Ministry to grant approved permits and exempt excise duty for vehicles used as taxis.

But metered taxis were exempted from excise duty from the very beginning and hire cars (non-metered taxis) after the 1983 Budget announcement.

Today, there is no excise duty for all commercial vehicles except limousine taxis, with ‘hire and drive’ vehicles granted for national cars only.

While budget taxi drivers have protested switching to the Proton Exora 1.6, the spokesman for the taxi group is waxing lyrical on operating the Toyota Vellfire.

If anything, it should be limousine operators that should lobby for excise duty exemption with SPAD introducing ‘Private Hire Vehicles’ to replace permits for limousine taxis and airport taxis offering premier and family service.

A taxi driver was reported that he had to struggle with maintenance costs as he had to drive 500kms a day to make ends meet.

Any taxi driver that can clock such high mileage would be earning more than enough to pay for maintenance with some left over for a rainy day.

Many taxi drivers are a confused lot and those heading associations remain popular by making nonsensical statements or issuing unreasonable demands.

Their stories would not end even with SPAD lifting the freeze on taxi permits for individuals from next month, bearing in mind that half of the current permits are already individually-owned.

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