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A group of taxi drivers have threatened to block many of Kuala Lumpur’s main roads if their demands are not met. The warning came after several taxi drivers gathered at the Padang Merbok carpark before marching towards Parliament to protest against ridesharing apps like Uber and GrabCar.

During yesterday’s protest led by the Klang Valley Taxi Driver Action Committee, the group claims that such ridesharing services severely impacted their livelihood. They are also pointing the finger at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for failing to ban Uber and GrabCar, demanding that the Commission’s leadership be reshuffled.

The protest organiser Kamarudin Mohd Hussain told The Star, “if there is no response or the right attention from the Government, we will have another large demonstration on several main roads. Maybe Bukit Bintang (or) KLCC.”

As a response to the protest, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Syed Albar told the newspaper that it (the commission) was working to improve the taxi industry. “We cannot do it in the same way that they do because we are the regulators. Obviously, not everything that we do, they (the drivers) are satisfied,” he said.

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Syed Hamid added that he was not worried by the threat, saying that demonstrations will only cause further distress to the public with road congestion and fuel more negative feelings towards the taxi industry.

“They (taxi drivers) are free to express their unhappiness but it is not by taking their frustration or unhappiness to the streets as it won’t be of any help. Instead they should come forward and provide us with their input as we are already taking steps to review and make changes to the taxi industry,” he told The Sun Daily.

Malaysian Taxi Drivers, Limousine & Car Rental Operators Association (Petekma) chairman Mohd Syahrir Abdul Aziz also shares the same sentiment, adding that the protest was a failure, as many taxi drivers refused to take part because the gathering was deemed to be politically motivated.

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Speaking to Bernama, “the gathering today appeared to be politically motivated because we (taxi drivers) should be dealing with the government and the relevant agencies, and not with the representative of an opposition party.

“I don’t see how this is going to solve the problem. In fact, it will only worsen the situation because they (participants) should use the right channel to voice out their opinion and not by organising a demonstration.”
Mohd Syahrir was commenting on the organisers’ actions, where during the protest, they handed over a memorandum relating to the matter to an opposition representative outside the Parliament building.

However, he does not deny that the rise of ridesharing apps (Uber and GrabCar) has made it difficult for taxi drivers to attract customers. “We have raised the matter with SPAD and also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nancy Shukri by sending a memorandum on the grouses of taxi drivers several months ago,” he said. Nevertheless, he urged taxi drivers to be patient on the matter.