Even before the advent of ride-hailing apps, I had been advocating that taxi drivers should switch to driving buses and trucks for higher and more stable income, particularly those raising a family.
Many have done so on their own accord as the attrition rate was high, with former taxi drivers easily outnumbering those currently driving.
It was common to read reports of cabbies complaining on almost everything under the sun, forgetting that they were not forced to become taxi drivers.
Granting each of them a taxi permit and RM5,000 for deposit of a new taxi will only entice more to remain stuck in a low-income trap.
Over the next five years, they will have to service the car loan, run the risks of accidents and increasing maintenance and fuel costs, while income will decrease with more passengers using ride-hailing services.
A better option is to seize the opportunity available in the MyLesen Goods Driving License (GDL) programme accorded by the Road Transport Department, together with Driving Institute and Association of Malaysia Haulier (AMH).
Those selected may undergo the course to obtain Class E GDL licence, at a discount lower than the normal rate of RM1,665. There are 1,000 openings available at 10 selected driving institutes in the Klang Valley.
Successful participants will then be offered posts as professional drivers in AMH registered companies, and earn monthly income of between RM3,000 and RM7,000. This initiative is under the Logistics and Trade Facilitation Masterplan by the government’s National Blue Ocean Strategy.
Continuing to highlight the plight of taxi drivers over the years have not helped them in any way, except to lead some into thinking the world owes them a living.
On the other hand, initiatives such as assisting them to switch to driving buses and trucks are concrete measures, more so when the bus and haulage industries are acutely short of good drivers.
It is also time for Malaysians to change our mindsets. In developed countries, many graduates are commercial vehicle drivers earning income no less than other jobs. My brother used to drive buses in Sydney and earned A$80,000 a year.
But locally, many of our graduates prefer to be unemployed or underemployed, shunning jobs they consider dangerous, dirty or difficult. As for taxi drivers, those that are too indisciplined would not consider working for others driving buses and trucks.
As for me, both are in the same boat. They are not helping themselves nor contributing to society.
Source : Y S Chan@The Heat Malaysia Online