Fed-up KKIA cab drivers want Loke to intervene

KOTA KINABALU (June 7): The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Limousine and Taxi Association’s patience is wearing thin over private e-hailing operators operating inside the terminal.

The association’s nearly 200 members are now demanding Transport Minister Anthony Loke to intervene, said its chairman, Shamsuddin Mohd Shah.

“This issue has been dragging on for years. So many meetings had been held with various relevant authorities. We were given the assurance that they would act. But our members are still facing the same problem today.

“Who else can we turn to now other than the Minister of Transport himself. We want him to intervene, No one can take this matter lightly because we’re talking about people’s livelihood here,” he said.

He reminded that the members’ only source of income to feed their families is from cab driving.

“This is not their part-time job or a side income,” he stressed.

According to him, the decision to ban private e-hailing operators from operating at the airport was already made a couple of years ago but the problem persists to this day.

Shamsuddin claimed many e-hailing operators wait in a long queue inside the area.

“By right, the KKIA Terminal 2 has been designated for them to wait for passengers,” he said.

KKIA Terminal 2, which has been closed since 2015, is in Tanjung Aru, about 10 minutes’ drive to KKIA main terminal. He insisted that the association members have the exclusive right to operate in the terminal as they pay a huge rental fee every month.

A few years ago, Malaysia Airports had announced that e-hailing service drivers were no longer allowed to wait for passengers at KKIA. The agreement was made after a meeting among the relevant authorities with the association which also included the implementation of geo fencing.

Geo fencing prevents e-hailing drivers from being able to use their app when inside the KKIA terminal area.

“Actually, geo fencing has been made compulsory for e-hailing operators. But despite all the complaints we’ve made and all the meetings, the Sabah CVLB (Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board) and e-hailing companies have not taken action on this,” he lamented.

The problem with e-hailing operators operating inside the airport terminal happens only in Sabah, but not in Peninsular Malaysia, Shamsuddin added. With the implementation of the ban, registered e-hailing drivers could pick up passengers in front of KKIA domestic arrival area.

Shamsuddin said continued non-compliance on the part of the e-hailing operators is unfair to the taxi drivers who have been operating in the terminal for a long time.

“It’s just unfair to our members who are only permitted to operate in the airport terminal. They’re not allowed to operate anywhere they like. “The KKIA terminal is the only place for them to earn a living,” he said.

He stressed that the association does not mind co-existing with e-hailing operators so long they comply with regulations by not waiting for passengers inside the terminal area. Meanwhile, a veteran cab driver who is a member of the association, Wong Teck Soon, said taxi drivers must be willing to work long hours just to make a small income.

“They’ll have to work 24 hours to make three to four trips a day. But who can stand this? No one,” said Wong, who has been a taxi driver for about 40 years with 30 in the airport terminal.