‘Most taxi drivers blacklisted, lead unhealthy lifestyles’

taxi-malaysiaKUALA LUMPUR: The taxi industry in the country is riddled with problematic drivers, 70% of whom have been blacklisted by financial institutions, the adviser of the Big Blue Taxi service, Shamsubahrin Ismail, revealed today.

He said 60% were debt-ridden and failed to practise proper financial planning, while 10% preferred to spend extravagantly at nightclubs and karaoke spots when not working.

He said there were about 200,000 taxi drivers across the country, of which some 70,000 were in the Klang Valley.

About 20,000, including those who have been blacklisted, had turned to working under e-hailing, ride-sharing firms Grab and Uber to earn a living, he said, cautioning that this could lead to social problems within the e-hailing industry.

“These people do not think of their families when it comes to spending their daily earnings. Instead, they just use the money on activities such as gambling and going to karaoke spots,” he said.

“Some of them are unfaithful to their wives and spend more money (on leisure) than they should,” he added at a press conference at his office in Ampang here today.

He said some had borrowed money from loan sharks, commonly known as “Ah Long”.

“They then start cheating passengers to make a quick buck (to repay their loans),” he said.

Shamsubahrin was commenting on an incident on May 21, when a pregnant passenger was robbed by a Uber driver and his accomplice, causing her to suffer trauma and emotional stress that allegedly led to a miscarriage six days later.

Wong Mei Yan, 26, was reportedly robbed at knifepoint while taking a ride from Mid Valley to Puchong.

Shamsubahrin also said Big Blue Taxi, which began operations in 2009 and now had over 2,000 members providing taxi and limousine services, would be submitting a proposal to Kuala Lumpur City Hall to take over taxi stands in the city.

He said the stands needed to be spruced up to be made presentable, with information centres for tourists and passengers where they could buy taxi coupons.

“At the moment, the taxi signage at every stand is small. Passengers look for taxis at the roadside and there is no proper waiting area.

“We want to have the facilities upgraded. Anyone who is registered with SPAD (Land Public Transport Commission) and also with us can use the taxi stands,” he said.

He said the company could make money by securing RM2 from each ticket sale.

He added that they were in the midst of securing a meeting with City Hall officials.

Big Blue Taxi is also planning to set up automated counters at the taxi stands for passengers to buy e-tickets for their rides.

Stressing that it was time for local taxis to gain the trust of the public, he said he was prepared to take over the management of the 200,000-odd taxis nationwide and be stern with them.

“The taxi driver should not talk too much (complain),” he said. “It is because of some of them that Uber and Grab are in the picture.

“Wake up in the morning, start your car and make money. At 10pm clock out. Go home. Be with your family. Give your wife money. Don’t simply spend by going to karaoke spots.”

Ivy Chong contributed to this article.

Uber ‘deeply upset’ woman passenger robbed during ride