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Nazri proposes taxi drivers moonlight as tour guides

 | July 17, 2017

He says the tourism and culture ministry can organise a special free course to prepare and train traditional taxi drivers and which would not be open to Grab and Uber drivers.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Taxi drivers who are generally affected by the emergence of e-hailing services will be given the opportunity to supplement their incomes by taking additional jobs as tour guides under a plan conceived by the tourism and culture ministry.

Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the ministry would look into holding a course for the traditional taxi drivers to equip and permit them to moonlight as guides to gain secondary income.

“My ministry can organise a special course for taxi drivers who are interested,” he said.

“Then we can issue out stickers that say ‘this taxi driver has undergone a course with the ministry’, so tourists will have more confidence in their tour services,” he told a press conference here today.

He said as the course is intended to help taxi drivers affected by reduced demands following the introduction of e-hailing services, it would not be open to Grab and Uber drivers.

Adding that the course would be available free of charge for those who are eligible, Nazri pledged to help level the playing field between traditional taxi operators and those carrying passengers using the ride-sharing services.

He also said the taxi drivers could play a secondary role as tour guides while continuing to enjoy existing institutional privileges available them.

Asked if his proposal would be approved by the federal cabinet, Nazri said it should not be a problem.

“The only thing we cannot amend is the Quran. The rest are made by humans. So it is up to me if I want to help the taxi drivers. No one can stop me,” he said.

“I will take it to the cabinet, and I will assure them that this is what’s best for taxi drivers.

“We will ensure that our traditional taxi drivers are protected,” he added.

Nazri also said all e-hailing services would soon have to comply with the same regulations that traditional taxis are subjected to.

The government is expected to table amendments to the Land Public Transport Act for a second reading in the Dewan Rakyat next month with the aim of regulating e-hailing services.

If the amendments are passed, all e-hailing drivers must be registered with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). They will also be subjected to strict background checks by the police and the Road Transport Department.

On Jan 8 this year, Nazri had said one of the main reasons the cabinet gave the go-ahead to SPAD to regularise Uber and Grab was because it did not want taxi drivers to cheat tourists anymore.

He said Malaysian taxis’ reputation for cheating tourists was hurting tourism, but with Uber and GrabCar tourists no longer had any reason to fear coming to the country.

However, operators in the taxi industry have recently spoken out against the government’s plan to legalise ride-sharing services.

In April, Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail urged SPAD to impose a fine on passengers using Grab and Uber.

He also blamed the public for contributing to a “mess” that he said had been created among ride-sharing services, SPAD and the taxi industry.

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