On 17 November, local taxi drivers in Sabah held a peaceful protest at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), asking for a complete control over transporting passengers from the airport
According to a report in The Star Online, the taxi drivers want the Sabah government to grant them exclusive rights to transport passengers from KKIA.
The Star Online, in its report, quoted the president of KKIA Limousine and Taxi Association, Shamsuddin Mohd Shah, saying that amid a stiff competition from services like Grab, it's become increasingly difficult for taxi drivers to earn a living.
"Previously, taxi drivers were able to make six trips on a daily basis. Now, we only make one trip per day. How can we survive like this?
"We have been suffering for the past two years. We even had to close down our taxi booth and let go six of 12 employees because we could no longer afford their salaries.
"We ask that the state government and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal help us airport cabbies. We are the rakyat too," he was quoted as saying by the English daily.
According to Shamsuddin, a decision to make taxi drivers the airport's primary transport providers has been taken months ago
He claims that the association had engaged in several discussions with Grab and Sabah Commercial Vehicle Licencing Board (LPKP) over the past few months.
"Seven months ago, we had a few meetings with LPKP and Grab. We even met with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). In the various discussions and workshops, they approved giving us exclusive rights to transport passengers.
"They said that Grab drivers would not be allowed to pick up passengers from the airport, and we even agreed on the rates (for taxi drivers). But until today, these have not been enforced," Shamsuddin was quoted as saying by The Star Online.
If the taxi drivers have the complete control, they are ready to be inducted into the e-hailing system, Shamsuddin added
According to the KKIA Limousine and Taxi Association president, if the passengers want a cheap fare, the taxi drivers also want the exclusivity in picking them up.