HUNDREDS of taxi drivers are giving up their jobs to look for other sources of income as their daily income has fallen by at least 80% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taxi driver Mohd Zamri Mahazan, 48, said many of the more than 2,000 taxi drivers operating in the Larkin bus station area hung up their keys as they were heavily dependent on tourist activities for their income.
He said travel restrictions and border closures had led to a huge drop in passenger numbers.
“We can’t rely on local customers as they usually have their own transportation or prefer the online calling service, which was already a competitor before the pandemic.
“Before Covid-19, we could earn around RM100-150 per day.
“Our daily income has dropped so much that it is sometimes difficult to get even RM15 a day.
“We hope the government will consider our welfare when formulating a new financial aid package, as things will get worse under this third order of movement control,” he said.
Mohd Zamri was among 20 taxi drivers who received essential items and money from Saiful Bahari, member of the exco national Party Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Armada.
Another taxi driver, Rahizam Ahmad, 53, said some of his peers switched to selling burgers and banana fritters to support their families as they could no longer afford to wait. hours in their vehicle, not knowing if and when they would have a passenger.
“I often have to wait more than three hours to get a client, in order to earn a few ringgits.
“We charge by the meter and the fare is not enough to cover my gasoline, taxi hire and other expenses.
“Sometimes I have no choice but to skip a few meals to save money because I still have to pay my bills, loans and family expenses.
“It’s not easy to make the transition either, as few have the capital to start a business.
“And we would also have to compete with existing and more established companies,” he said.
The vice president of the Association for the welfare of taxi drivers of the complex area of the Ministry of the Interior of Setia Tropika, Ahmad @ Rahmat Rahman, hopes that the federal government will consider reviewing or upgrading the taxi operating system.
“As taxi drivers, we are trapped in the conventional mode of operation, which prevents us from competing with online calling services, especially at times like these,” he added. .
Meanwhile, Saiful, who handed over aid to taxi drivers at Larkin bus station, said his team had distributed more than 15 tonnes of rice to the needy since January and would continue to do so to help more people. .
“Besides the taxi drivers, we have also distributed essential supplies to disadvantaged groups and low-income families to help them get through the pandemic,” he said, adding that those in need can contact him via his Facebook page.