Not enough evidence to act against errant taxi drivers – Board

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KOTA KINABALU: The lack of evidence has hampered the Sabah Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) from initiating action against errant taxi drivers in the state.

Its director, Yozimah @ Ziema Jasni, said they had received numerous complaints from passengers, including tourists, of being overcharged for taxi fares. No action could be taken as there was not enough evidence to support those claims.

“That was one of the reasons why we introduced the installation of taxi meters in the state. We want to contain this problem,” she said when briefing the new CVLB chairman, Datuk Teo Chee Kang, yesterday.

She explained that the idea of installing meters in taxis was mooted in 2005 but was made compulsory only this year due to complaints from the public transportation operators.

“We have a total of 892 registered taxis in the state capital and all of them have installed the meters. The rates fixed are RM10 for the first three kilometres and an additional 12 sen for every subsequent 100 metres,” she said.

Yozimah said the idea was to implement the use of meters in taxis all over the state but there had been strong objections from drivers in Tawau, Lahad Datu and Sandakan.

She explained that they claimed it was too costly to install the meter (which costs RM1,400 each) and that passengers too had the problem of adapting to the new rates.

“There are a total of 1,100 registered taxis in Tawau, Sandakan (688) and Lahad Datu (96). They have strongly opposed the idea and CVLB had agreed to postpone the implementation the use of meters in their vehicles. We will have to do it eventually,” she said.

Yozimah added that the use of meters in taxis would enable CVLB to monitor the drivers’ activities.

“Passengers will be given a receipt produced by the meters installed in these taxis. This can be used as evidence by a passenger when filing any complaint related to overcharging of fares,” she said.

She added that under the provisions of the CVLB Act 1987, the failure to install a taxi meter constitutes an offence compoundable up to RM300 and risks the license being revoked.

In the first 11 months last year, enforcement statistics showed that CVLB had collected a total of RM147,600 from payments of compounds, with the state capital topping the list at RM100,350 derived from 321 notices issued, Sandakan (RM22,950 from 128 notices issued) and Tawau (RM38,250 from 191 notices issued).

The overall compound collected in 2009 stood at RM173,350, with Tawau topping the list with RM75,300 from 299 notices, followed by Kota Kinabalu (RM70,150 from 280 notices) and Sandakan (RM27,900 from 136 notices).

On another development, Yozimah also called on City Hall to set up taxi bays at shopping complexes to provide convenience to both passengers and operators.

“By having waiting bays, passengers would know where to locate the taxis and taxi drivers would have a place while waiting for passengers,” she said.

According to Yozimah, CVLB would focus on improving the quality of drivers and their vehicles which entail monitoring of the use of taxi meters, cleanliness of vehicles and their drivers.

“We would also make it compulsory for the operators to attend a briefing on enhancing disciplines among them to ensure they become aware of the consequences of failing to comply with certain criterion of the law resulting in stern action to be taken, including revoking the licenses of repeat offenders,” she said.

The briefing marked Teo’s first official duty as CVLB chairman effective Jan 1 this year following the sudden demise of Datuk Edmund Chong Ket Wah in a road accident last year.

“I would like to thank all, especially the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Liew Vui Keong, who is also the Liberal Democratic Party president, for the confidence in me in handling the task as CVLB chairman,” said Teo who promised to continue the good work laid down by the late Chong.