‘Taxi sapu’ becoming a nuisance

National 2 minutes, 53 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE number of illegal taxi operators known locally as ‘Taxi Sapu’ is not only a nuisance on legal and licensed taxi drivers but are fast becoming a safety issue for the public.

According to Mahmud Hj Iring, secretary of the Persatuan Teksi Brunei-Muara (Brunei-Muara Taxi Association), one of the concerns is that the condition of these drivers especially their vehicles are uncertain.

Whether the vehicle is insured or even if the the driver can be trusted, is something that we have no knowledge of hence the concern for public safety.

Mahmud pointed out that some of these drivers are also very intimidating and daring as some are known to actually pick up and drop their passengers right at the regular and licensed taxi station at the central bus terminal in the capital.

These ‘taxi sapu’ sometimes even park at the designated taxi car parks as they wait for passengers, lacking any sense of fear for the authorities, said Mahmud.

“There have been discussions and meetings previously with the relevant authorities to discuss on this issue. It’s not like there is no enforcement at all; there is. It’s just that these law enforcement agents should not be so obvious when they come to do their rounds decked in their uniforms with bold lettering on their backs spelling out enforcement. Of course they would know straight-away and avoid picking and dropping their passengers at their pick-up points,” said Mahmud.

“This (pirate taxis) has been going on for a long time and despite having a law on this, I can see that there is a lack of enforcement to tackle this issue and help us, the authorised taxi drivers.”

The interview with local and legal operators brought to light another question and that is how the ‘taxi sapu’ has managed to thrive amidst the seemingly stagnant public service.

The public has pointed out that the reason behind this is because the ‘taxi sapu’ is cheaper by leaps and bounds when compared to the legal and licensed taxi rates.

When asked about the overpriced taxi rate, Mahmud explained the amount of money involved in running a legal and licensed taxi.

Mahmud said “First time insurance for new taxi car would be about $3000 and the yearly payment after that would be around $1000. On top of that, we have to renew our taxi license which is $50 for every six months. To be honest, our only clientelle are tourists and foreigners as Bruneians mostly own their own vehicles.”

“With the increasing number of illegal taxis and the lack of enforcement, definitely these pose as a threat to our source of income. Thus, we had to compromise and hike up the rate as we also have families to feed,” said Mahmud.

In an attempt to verify what was relayed to us by the operators, The Brunei Times again went out to see if what he claimed was true. Standing in front of a shopping complex in Kg Serusop in Berakas, surprisingly the number of cars that stopped to offer rides in the span of 30 minutes from 10.45am to 11.15am was around 13. One driver that offered was even more inconspicuous as the car that drove up was occupied by a woman and child together with the driver indicating that it was a family unit.

Further observation of the vehicle showed that they went up to random people around the area offering lifts to wherever they intended to go.

The Brunei Times