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According to a report by Bernama, “gangster” groups that claim to be from taxi companies, are said to be a threat to other taxi drivers’ safety and livelihoods. These groups that also include fellow taxi drivers, control major areas in Kuala Lumpur, forcing other taxi drivers to submit to their own set of requirements in order to operate in them.

Speaking to the news agency, Klang Valley Taxi Driver Action Committees Association chairman, Zailani Isausuludin claimed the “gangster” problem had existed for over 10 years. Throughout that time, these thuggish taxi drivers seemed to be impervious to any action against them by the authorities.

He said, “they have been controlling the areas which are public haunts such as shopping complexes, luxurious condominiums, premier hotels and the LRT stations. If we want to pick up passengers from the areas ‘controlled’ by them, we will first have to each pay RM200 a month to them for each area.”

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If the taxi drivers did not comply with this demand, they would be threatened with physical harm and damage to their taxis, according to Zailani. This has forced taxi drivers to pay “area money” to these groups, by taking advantage of not using the meter and charging high fares, especially on foreign tourists in areas controlled by the “gangsters.”

Zulkiflie Aminuddin, a taxi driver, said these groups make it hard for taxi drivers operating within the Klang Valley to earn a healthy income. “It’s difficult to earn RM150 a day as our movements are restricted by these thuggish groups of taxi drivers,” he said, adding that taxi permits issued by SPAD allowed taxi drivers to pick up any passenger within the Klang Valley.

“For instance, recently I wanted to pick up a passsenger who made a booking through the MyTeksi application but when I drove to the waiting area of the shopping complex, I was prevented from picking up the passenger by a group of men who said only taxis with a special sticker were allowed to do so,” Zulkiflie recalled.

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Zailani stated that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has been informed of this issue, but no action has been taken against these “gangster” taxi groups until today. The association also suggested that SPAD form a group of volunteers made up of selected taxi drivers, supported by a mobile unit in the hot spots to monitor such activites.

This is similar to the Road Transport Department’s Skuad Muda 1JPJ, which also carries out community service activities. Additionally, Zailani recommends SPAD to set up mobile stations in busy areas around the city centre such as Bukit Bintang including KL Pavilion, Jalan Petaling, Brickfields and KL Sentral to reduce the number of taxi drivers not using the meter.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think more should be done by the authorities to tackle this “gangster” problem? Have you ever encountered a situation as described above? Let us know in the comments below.