Monday, November 17, 2008

NOH OMAR: Cabbies to be allowed to have side business


KUALA LUMPUR: Cabbies will be allowed to have a side business such as selling packet drinks and phone cards to passengers in one of the moves to help them supplement their income.

“The cabbies can sell, in their taxis, drinks or pre-paid cards by collaborating with telcos,” Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar said, adding that this was among the demands made by the public transport associations.

Also, the ministry has decided to increase the taxis’ road worthiness from seven years to 10 years, as long as they get approval from Puspakom.

On the new taxis to be specially designed and produced by Proton in a move to standardise taxis in the country, Noh said the ministry was also working to get Proton to buy back the taxis.

“With that, taxi drivers can trade in their old Proton taxis to purchase new ones from Proton,” he said.

Another move was to make it simpler for taxis seeking ministry approval to carry advertisements. “They will also be allowed to put up the advertisements on the roof of the taxis. They can make extra income from rental paid by advertisers,” he said.

Noh also said that from next year public transport fares would be reviewed on an annual basis. He said the last review was in 2005.

“If we review the fares every four, five years the increments will drastic. By making it annual, any increment will be more reasonable, less sustainable and hence less of a burden to consumers.

“In other countries, fares are reviewed annually and hence the increment is about 5% or 10%, which is not that much and does not burden the people,” he said, adding that the taxi associations had cited increasing operations cost following the high rise in prices of tyres and car batteries.

“Whatever decision we make will be in the interest of consumers and the operators,” he said.

Noh added that the ministry had actually already set the fare increase but had to re-look it following several Government incentives recently announced for public transport, such as slashing of toll rates and fuel incentives.

“The review will also consider peak hours as well as distance travelled. We want to resolve the problem of cabbies not wanting to take passengers during peak hours,” he said.

However, the increment would not be as high as 70% or 100% as requested by bus associations.

Noh also said that in the first phase, the Government would issue 1,000 permits to individual taxi drivers by this year. A cabinet committee on pubic transportation, expected to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, will be set up for the purpose.

Noh said as individual taxi drivers would be priorities for the permit, taxi companies would lose drivers. However, he warned that their entire permit would be suspended if the companies were caught employing even one foreigner to drive cabs.

source: Cabbies to be allowed to have side business
Malaysia Star, Malaysia