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Remember last week’s taxi rate hike? Apparently the case is not closed, as the Cabinet has told SPAD to shelve the fare hike as the timing of it was unsuitable, since it would coincide with the implementation of GST on April 1.

SPAD had announced on March 19 a revised taxi and express bus fare structure. While the flag down rate for budget taxis remain at RM3 in the Klang Valley (RM4 in Penang), the time and distance rates have now been revamped to cost 25 sen for every 200 metres or and/or every 36 seconds. The flag down rate for Teksi1Malaysia (brown Proton Exora), on the other hand, has been revised to RM4. It will now cost passengers 30 sen for every 200 metres travelled.

“The Cabinet has discussed the matter and agreed that there is a basis for the hike due to the rising costs of operation and maintenance and the last fare hike was six years ago. However, the timing of the hike is unsuitable because, with GST being implemented at the same time, it would further burden the public. Therefore, the Cabinet has asked SPAD to postpone the hike,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a report by NST.

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Naturally, taxi drivers are not happy about this. Some of them have already recalibrated their meters and are saying unless there is an official circular from SPAD on the matter, they are going to go ahead and charge the new rates anyway. Apparently recalibrating the meters can cost up to RM150 and if they went back to the old rates, the money paid would now go to waste.

“For us, that view is not in line with what we are facing. We have to pay rent, operational costs, repair and we also have the daily cost of living to take care of. Many speak up wanting to be the people’s champion. But they should also think of us. When we get this increment, people start to question it,” said Meter Taxi Drivers Action Body (BBPTB) chairman Amran Jam in a report by Astro Awani.

“Do not think we will be lavish. We need to cover some costs and we can not benefit 100 per cent  from this increase. If people want good service, it can be done. But we want our rights and income to be protected as well,” said Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain in the same Astro Awani report.

Amran added that if SPAD abides by the Cabinet’s request, BBPTB may go on a strike.