Rakyat standing at the back of the public transport queue — Justin Santiago
JULY 10 — It’s no surprise that a taxi ride to the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) can sometimes cost as much as a plane ticket. The reason is simple. Every time a taxi ferries a passenger to the LCCT it has to go back empty. Taxis that bring in passengers are prohibited from picking up passengers and hence have to charge a premium because they are unable to pick up a fare leaving the LCCT.
The only beneficiaries from this policy are the LCCT taxi operators that monopolise passenger pickups from LCCT. They alone dictate the prices that are charged to travel-weary passengers coming to Malaysia based on a coupon system. They alone control the number of taxis in the queue. The end result is expensive fares for passengers and long queues. All in the trip to and from the LCCT can be a hugely expensive affair, something that cannot be avoided if you are travelling with family or with a lot of luggage.
What sort of government policy would place these greedy taxi operators ahead of millions of travellers every year? Doesn’t the government realise that such policies contradict oft-quoted campaigns to get people to use public transport and use less fuel?
Public transport has become burdensome and expensive and time consuming. It is not only the taxi rides to and from the LCCT that are fundamentally flawed by bad policy.
The same can be said of poor connectivity in the public transportation network in the Klang Valley.
It has been 15 years since the LRT trains started moving but till today there is yet to be a proper pedestrian crossing between Kampung Abdullah Hukum station in Jalan Bangsar and the Komuter station at Mid Valley, a distance of 400 metres. Similarly it has taken 15 years for a connection to be finally built between the Monorail station in Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields (Little India) and KL Sentral where the LRT and Komuter stations are. Such simple steps would have engendered the public towards the government and would have got the government much more support than what it is getting today.
One wonders where the new MRT will make a difference. Already there are rumblings from the ground that the MRT is creating more problems than solutions. Underlying all the protests is the fact that the same company that is the project delivery partner for the MRT project also has a vested interest in car manufacturing.
MMC-Gamuda, the project delivery partner for the MRT project, and DRB-HICOM, which owns 99.09 per cent of Proton, are controlled by the same huge conglomerate. One wonders whether there will be a conflict of interest — should they sell more cars or should they be involved in a public transport system which will reduce the sale of cars? Here again, public policy should have stepped in to clearly demarcate the lines of conflicting demands.
To an astute government which wants to engender itself to the electorate it would be wise to live up to its motto “Rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan”. By having policies that favour well connected businessmen ahead of the public transport hungry public, it is telling the rakyat otherwise and to stand at the wrong end of the queue.
* Justin Santiago runs a political communications consultancy in Kuala Lumpur.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.