The trishaw riders were once called the ‘Kings of the Roads’ in Penang. Today the crowns have shifted to new heads, those of taxi drivers.
Despite promises by the state government and enforcement agencies, and their so-called Aug 1 deadline for taxis to use the meter, the Kings are still defiant.
It’s amazing that the rule to use the meter was proposed nine years ago, but was put off several times to appease the taxi drivers. As the locals say, finding a taxi driver in Penang who will take you to your destination and charge you by the meter is like finding a needle in the haystack.
The State Local Government and Transport Management Committee chairman Dr Teng Hock Nan and the Chief Minister have both acted ‘dunno’ and attempted to do a Pontius Pilate on the sorry state of affair.
Dr Teng said: "It is out of our hands. Go and ask the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) what they are doing about it."
That’s the sort of state government we’re having. Time for Koh and his Gerakan to go.
The CVLB, the authority that issues the public service vehicle permits to cabbies, has also reneged on its promise to crack down on rogue drivers.
Its chairman, Markiman Kobiran, has the bloody gall to admit that no action had been taken against any taxi driver on the island although show-cause letters were sent to 55 of them. He said the CVLB had decided to give taxi drivers more time to abide by the ruling and would only discuss the matter at a later date.
WTF 'more time'?
When asked just how long they would monitor the situation before cracking the whip, Markiman beat around the bush and said that people should be patient with the cabbies.
Many have been asking the question on why the authorities have been reluctant to act against those defiant cab drivers?
Those in the know have privately indicated that it has to do with political interference. One source said: "We can easily solve the problem but every time the enforcement agencies get tough, the cabbies run to the politicians for help. The politicians then get involved and we are back to square one."
Citizens For Public Transport (Cepat) co-ordinator, Dr Choong Sim Poey, said it was terrible that taxi drivers were given endorsement to continue flouting the law.
He criticised: "The CVLB and state government cannot continue taking the taxi drivers’ side."
I am not surprised at all as CM Koh KT has been playing footsies with hawkers and cab drivers for decades. That’s why Penang State under his leadership (or lack of) looks like a lump of sh*t instead of being the Pearl of the Orient.