Illicit taxi drivers threaten safety of public bus drivers

National 2 minutes, 44 seconds

BELAIT

PUBLIC transport operators in Belait have accused illegal taxi drivers of threatening their safety if they report them to the authorities.

There have been instances when they were threatened and even hit in the face by illegal taxi drivers, some of the bus and taxi operators told The Brunei Times.

A taxi driver, who did not want to be named for safety concerns, said he decided to stay silent and not report to the Land Transport Department (JPD) because he was previously threatened.

Reporting the matter may also be useless as some of the illegal taxi drivers would claim that they have connections with people working at JPD, he said.

He added that the illegal taxi drivers claimed it is easy for them to get tip-offs on who reported them to the authorities.

When contacted yesterday, Land Transport Director Dr Hj Supry Hj Ladi said his department will take action against illegal taxi drivers “very soon”.

He said the department had received photos of illegal taxi activities in Belait, and had taken note of their car registration numbers.

“On those who have connections with high-ranking officers at JPD, so far there are none that I am aware of.

“But if there is, we will be conducting our own internal investigation on the matter,” he added.

Meanwhile, bus operators said based on their observations, illegal taxis in the district would usually time their operations based on the bus schedule, which may start around 6.30am to 7pm.

The public buses will transport passengers back and forth from the terminal in Kuala Belait to Seria.

The bus operators said illegal taxis usually fetch passengers about five minutes early before buses begin their journey.

There will be up to 10 and 20 cars waiting per day, depending on whether or not it is on weekdays or public holidays, said a bus driver.

Bus operators also accuse illegal taxis of taking passengers from bus stops.

A bus driver said he was overtaken by an illegal taxi as he was reaching a bus stop, but chose not to do anything.

“Honking or telling them not to do that would usually cause problems,” he said, adding that the illegal taxi driver even used a wooden pole to threaten him.

Another bus operator alleged that he was hit in the face with a metal pole by an illegal taxi driver, but decided against filing a police report to “avoid complicating the matter”.

He added that he was a foreigner, while the illegal taxi driver was a local.

Another bus driver said Illegal taxi operations have been on the rise for the past two to three years, based on the amount of money he collected. He now collects below $100 per day, compared with a minimum of $200 in the past.

Believing that it is risky for him to approach illegal taxi operators, the bus driver tried persuade passengers not to ride the illegal taxis because it can harm them as they are not registered and insured.

“But so far, the passengers do not heed my advice because most of them would stress that they need to reach their destination immediately,” he said.

All of the bus and taxi drivers interviewed said the matter was previously relayed to the JPD, but were still waiting for further action.

The Brunei Times