The issue of taxi drivers behaving aggressively and assaulting both innocent passengers and drivers of Uber and Grab Car e-hailing services should be taken seriously, and the government needs to act promptly and decisively before the situation gets worse.
Since day one after Independence, the taxi service has been riddled with problems and no proper and effective remedy has been found through the decades. From VIPs getting taxi permits, to companies leasing taxis, to owner-operated cabs - the entire system throughout the years has been found wanting.
Nothing has worked positively and the majority of the local population as well as tourists have mostly nothing good to say about the taxi service. In fact there is a mountain of complaints of all kinds. The government needs to understand that the present taxi service system is too bloated with problems and issues to be resolved amicably and effectively.
The Road Transport Department (JPJ) is said to heve given up on reforming the taxi service or changing the attitude of the cabbies. In many countries one only has to hail a taxi and tell the driver to go to a certain destination and he will oblige. However, here in KL, one has to beg the driver to go to a certain place, and he will instantly come up with a litany of excuses and also not use the meter to exploit the passengers, or will charge exorbitant fares.
The Uber and Grab Car e-hailing service has come with the passage of time and technology and should be fully utilised by the government as a blessing in disguise to transform the taxi service. The government needs to license Uber and Grab Car as well as other firms, local and foreign ,that offer such services. When licensed, these companies can be properly regulated and monitored as has been done in many countries.
The government needs to come with a plan to put an end to the present taxi service by giving a grace period of three years for the taxis in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to cease operations. The taxi drivers and operators can find alternative means of income and employment or they can opt to work for the e-hailing service companies as they are experienced.
When millions of foreigners can find gainful employment in various sectors of the economy, the cab drivers, too, can find a job or other means of income. There is no question of them remaining jobless and becoming a social problem.
With the MRT coming into operation soon and the expansion of the LRT, it is time the government comes with a proper plan for public transport and taxis .The long-suffering public will welcome any bold initiatives by the government to address the recurring and never-ending problems concerning public transport.