By James Lim
I told my wife: ” Honey, I am very sorry to tell you that you are married to a prostitute”.
She stared at me with her mouth wide open and said: ” Honey, what do you mean? Are you bisexual? Are you having sex with men too”?.
I replied to her and said:
“No. I am neither bisexual nor I’ve ever had sex with males. By saying I am a prostitute, I meant that I am a taxi driver. A taxi driver in Singapore is nothing but a prostitute. Think of it. We have this blood-sucking government agency called LTA in our back, day in and day out, busy pulling cab drivers pants down and raping us. Then we have the blood thirsty taxi operators that don’t bother fixing the cabs properly like changing worn-out tyres and removing ABS air-bags and as a result cab drivers end up having accidents and dying. Then you have the traffic cops giving you questionable tickets for picking or dropping in a bus lanes. To top it all is having to deal with all those mentally sick, drunken ang-moh and fare beaters. Like prostitutes, we have to service our customers without questions once they land their buttocks on our seats. Who is around to protect us and hear our complaints. “
“Having to go through all these if it is not a prostitution what would you name a cab driving profession here in Singapore? A professional road pilot?. But, thankfully no other job would give an old man like me $25,000 a year. And 99% of my customers are GOOD people! Thank you, Sir & Madam, truly from the bottom of my heart!. But, I have lost my self respect and dignity for that miserable $25,0000 per year.”
After hearing all my bullshit, she gave me a light knock on my head and said, “Quit if you can’t take the heat or complain to your MP or NTA (National Taxi Association)”.
I replied “Don’t waste my time. All these people are bedding each other and “wayang” performers. Instead, we taxi drivers have to depend on ourselves for protection and sallow all the bitter pills of complaints with a pint of salt”.
“Why can’t you people unite and protest? she asked innocently.
“What, unite and protest? We already have NTA but the chief is an MP from the G. What good can you expect? Honestly, we have to blame ourselves. We are traitors. Yes, traitors are us, the cabbies. Traitors to ourselves. We’re too selfish to help a fellow cabby in trouble, and have all the time and effort to cut off a weak cabby and snatch his fare from under his/her nose. We have no time to unite and fight for our basic human rights. Yes, we are the traitors, the worst ones. Like hungry wild dogs who kill and eat up their own weak brother, but run away when a wolf shows up. Shame on us.”
“Do you know that 200,000 taxi drivers went on strike in South Korea in June this year? she asked like she knows everything.
“Of course, I know. I know more than you, ok? I know they went on strike when their G refused to pass a bill to subsides taxi drivers when fuel cost rocketed, among other things”.
“I also know taxi drivers there want their industry to be considered a public transportation, the same way that buses and trains are. Classifying taxis as part of the country’s mass transportation system would mean that taxi drivers can get state subsidies on fuel, tax and other benefits just like bus and train operators.
But their G rejected their appeals saying that public transportation refers to mass transportation operating along specific routes and fixed timetables, so taxis cannot be included in this category. But, in S.Korea, taxis ferry 11 million people in one day, while buses ferry 13 millions. This shows that a lot of people in S.Korea use taxis because fares are so cheap. Korean go on strikes like having birthday parties for every buddies in the block, not here, ok”
Ough! My wife had fallen asleep before I could bombard her with more of my b.s.
So, allow this querulous taxi driver to continue with more rhetoric here.
Presently, all players in the taxi game are unhappy with the taxi model here.
- Taxi commuters are unhappy with sporadic fare increases, complex fare structures and surcharges, difficulties in getting a cab, poor customer service, etc.
- Taxi operators are facing difficulties in maintaining their bottom line with increasing operating costs, higher COE, hirer issues, meeting regulatory standards, etc.
- Taxi drivers are forever grouching on their hardship in earning a decent income with increasing competition on the road with more taxis, increase running costs and taxi rental, no protection or social safety nets whatsoever, etc.
All these grievances and issues are interlinked and nobody is able to devise a system to satisfy all the different needs which has no obvious pattern.. Sadly, this sorrowful situation had been going on for the last 28 years since taxi industry was deregulated 1985. Like Mr. Han Fook Kwang (Managing Editor of ST) said, “no transport minister had the appetite to intervene in these issues”. But rightly, our transport minister ought to take the lead to set the RIGHT PRICE and proceed from there. Allowing the “monopolistic” COMFORT DELGRO to set taxi fares is essentially wrong, for obvious reasons. All the woes in taxi industry requires decisions that ONLY the G can make.
Most importantly, before our G goes about tackling the issues and setting the right price, they must first of all remove or reduce all the taxes and revenues derives from the taxi transportation industry, like ERP charges, COE, road taxes, fuel taxes and what have you. Essentially, our G should subsides the taxi transportation like buses and trains. If this is done, everything else will fall beautifully into place. Taxi commuters will enjoy lower fare with lots of taxis plying the road. Taxi driver will also enjoy lower rental, fuel cost, more passengers and additional monetary incentives for picking more fares per shift. Taxi operators will have lower operating costs, less un-hired cabs in garages and hirer turnover. Everybody is happy!
Am I dreaming?
(Photo of a Comfort Taxi)
This post was first published in Diary of a Singapore Cabby.[spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”]
Disclaimer – This letter does not represent the stance of TOC or of any editoral position.