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Taxi permit forms — SPAD information confuses

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 09 September 2016

By Y S CHAN

ON Sept 6, I called 1 800 88 7723 to inquire whether application forms for taxi permits could be downloaded from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) website and was told that these forms are only obtainable at SPAD offices.

When asked, the operator confirmed they are available at the UTC Kuala Lumpur branch in Pudu Sentral. She struck me as someone cheerful and efficient.

On Sep 7, I arrived at SPAD’s office in Pudu Sentral. Before the entrance, a staff was seated behind a foldable table with a stack of taxi permit application forms.

She gave me a form, took the trouble to explain the process and was not annoyed by my questions. I left with one set upon receiving confirmation that the forms can be photocopied if more are needed.

Upon reaching my office, I compared it with the set downloaded earlier from SPAD website and found the first six pages exactly the same. There were two extra pages, one for office use and the other for acknowledging receipt of application.

As such, those who called SPAD should be told that these forms could be downloaded from the website and applications to be submitted at SPAD’s branches, such as in Kelana Jaya or Putrajaya, but not at its HQ in KL Sentral.

Interestingly, individuals applying for taxi permits must first register their business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) as a sole proprietor.

If not, a person who carries on business without registration is committing an offence under the Registration Of Business Act 1956, and could be fined not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two (2) years, or both.

The applicant will have to show proof of designated parking space at his residence by producing an authorisation letter from the owner or parking management. Those who park by the roadside will have to submit a photo and map showing available public parking lots.

Applicants are also required to forward a statement of accounts endorsed by the bank for the last three months, effectively ruling out applicants without bank accounts.

Taxi drivers with a clean record, current taxi company contract and valid SPAD Driver’s Card should have no difficulty getting their permits.

Second preference should be given to those who had stopped driving taxis and wish to resume as they no longer have to rent a permit. Continuing to renew their Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence is proof that they have not given up totally.

Taxi companies should have records of those who cannot produce the Driver’s Card issued by SPAD or the defunct Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board, including the taxi contracts.

Those who took the trouble to obtain a new PSV licence can also be considered, even though they may not have any taxi driving experience or have allowed their old PSV licence to lapse.

Although the PSV licence would be made redundant by an upgraded Driver’s Card, those without it should not be considered.

Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of issuing taxi permits if entry barriers are too low or removed. If so, it might as well deregulate the taxi industry altogether.

This is especially so when private vehicles are allowed to provide chauffeur-driven services through e-hailing apps.

But before anyone jump into investing in a new vehicle to provide taxi or e-hailing services, do bear in mind that these jobs have no security of tenure.

When both drivers and passengers are having a bad day, minor irritants can easily cause disagreements, resulting in passengers lodging complaints with the e-hailing operator or SPAD.

Drivers who can explain their side of the story well may get away with it, but eventually everyone gets tired after a few more complaints. It can get too stressful to continue driving for a living at the mercy of passengers.

Taxis are exempted from excise duty and are much cheaper than private vehicles for the same model but the motor insurance premiums are higher. It is also subject to bi-annual inspections which can be tiring, and frustrating when road tax cannot be renewed due to complications.

Roadside passengers may flag down passing taxis but e-hailing services would be more popular as their rates will always be lower than regulated fares.

Those driving to earn a living should drive buses or trucks for a stable and higher income.

Driving a car will be more of a side-income as it is open to millions of drivers nationwide.

Obtaining a permit and operating a new taxi may not provide sufficient income to raise a family but many will continue heading towards this low-income trap.

I should know, having driven premier and budget taxis from 2000-2010. As such, the RM5,000 seed money granted to some applicants may turn out to be a curse.