PETALING JAYA: For years, taxi drivers have complained of being at the losing end of hire purchase agreements with taxi companies which dictate the terms and conditions of the agreements.
Now, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) wants to change this by amending laws aimed at offering taxi drivers better protection.
Speaking to FMT, a source in SPAD said as part of the authority’s Taxi Industry Transformation Plan (TITP), it was pushing for laws to ensure fairer deals for taxi drivers.
The source explained that at present some taxi drivers were forced to pay the daily rental rates stated in their agreements, regardless of whether they were unable to work due to sickness or when they had to take their taxis for mandatory regulatory checks.
“What we want to do is make taxi companies have a health and annual leave policy so that taxi drivers are not charged rentals when they are too sick to drive or take their cars to Puspakom for checks.”
The source said that SPAD was also pushing for laws to ensure companies provided first party insurance for taxi drivers.
Aside from that, SPAD also wants companies to refund the deposits paid for by taxi drivers at the end of the hire purchase contracts.
The source explained that with taxi drivers now being able to opt for metered taxis or e-hailing taxi services, or both, taxi companies would have to change how they operated to ensure their survival.
“If taxi drivers can operate with e-hailing services, why would they simply sign up with taxi companies?
“The taxi companies must now provide better working conditions and fairer agreements if they want to remain relevant. If not, drivers would choose to take individual licences or opt for e-hailing services.”
Yesterday, in rolling out the TITP, SPAD said it will lift the freeze on the issuance of individual taxi licences under the metered taxi class and hired cars (kereta sewa).
It also announced that the government had approved a cash grant of RM5,000 to help taxi drivers exit the rental (pajak) model and purchase new cars.
Taxi drivers will also be able to leverage on e-hailing apps and use their taxis to provide e-hailing services.
SPAD will also liberalise the vehicle model choice to enable taxi drivers to afford more competitively-priced cars, like the newly-launched Bezza.
Earlier this year, Selangor DAP lawmaker Rajiv Rishyakaran called on SPAD and its chairman, Syed Hamid Albar, to end long-term rental-purchase contracts between taxi companies and drivers.
Rajiv said these companies had little incentive to help improve the welfare of the drivers because the drivers could not switch companies.