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Concerned with personal safety, passengers opt for taxi service operators

More commuters opt for taxi service operators such as Grab and Uber in order to avoid the perceived risks associated with ordinary taxis. It is believed that the ride-hailing apps provide better safety and security for passengers.

Meanwhile, some taxi drivers are anxious about their jobs as the industry is suffering from a vote of no confidence by the general public, after a female passenger was allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered by a taxi driver on January 20. On January 24, police arrested a taxi driver in connection with the death of a woman who went missing on the night of January 19 while travelling from Nay Pyi Taw to Yangon.

The driver was arrested after police found in his possession a smartphone that belonged to the victim whose body was found near a bridge that spans Nga Moe Yeik creek in North Dagon’s Myothit township on Sunday.

Because of this case, everybody has become afraid to take taxis, especially at night. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a problem between a taxi driver and a passenger has escalated. Recently, a similar case happened when a passenger killed a taxi driver. Distrust between taxi drivers and passengers have been sown.

Many locals advise customers to take ridesharing services such as Grab and Uber, as it will be safer than taking local taxis since passengers have access to key information such as driver name, their phone number, car model and license plate number — making it easier for passengers to track the drivers or call for help if any problem arises.

The murder incident has severely affected taxi drivers, who complain that the passengers are passing up local taxis. Hence, drivers are losing out on their fares.

‘The case [involving the FDA victim] has affected all those taxi drivers who are driving honestly and fairly. As for me, I’ve been a taxi driver for a long time and I serve passengers as well as I can.

“But lately, passengers do not dare to hire ordinary taxis at night from about 8pm onwards. As far as I know, the people turn to Grab, Uber etc. Our daily income has gone down,” taxi driver U Tin Myint said.

To ensure safety for all passengers, the government should set up fixed meters in all taxis in order to make sure the fare is fair and just.

‘‘Safety for all, the passengers should take care of themselves. From the side of the government, they should have laws to put a GPS and meters in all taxis…

“They [passengers] should also check the drivers before they take the taxis. If they think that the driver’s manner or behaviour is not normal, they shouldn’t get on the vehicle …” he went on. Whatever the case may be, taxi drivers should respect their passengers, advised some taxi drivers.

‘‘Whoever the passenger, we should respect them and offer services with care. Even we drive a little farther away than their original destination, we should be patient and polite,” taxi driver Kyaw Maung argued.

Following the notorious incident, Yangon regional government is implementing a plan to crackdown on crimes related to taxis with the help of the municipal police. Every taxi in Yangon should be registered as a city taxi at Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA).

In Yangon, there were over 60,000 taxis and only over 30,000 taxis registered as city taxis, according to the YRTA. At first, YRTA set December 31 as the last date for registration but some taxi owners requested to extend the period — YRTA extended the period to January 31.

If taxis fail to register after the extended period, action will be taken and taxis will lose their licenses. Some taxi drivers have criticised the registration, ventilating their discontent on social media platforms.

Service operators doing well Drivers under ride-sharing companies like Uber, in contrast, have said that the passengers are increasing. Yangon has four service operators – Grab, Uber, Hello Cabs and Oway.

“The business is growing every day. It’s not because of any specific incident, but because we offer a good service to our customers,” said a Grab spokesperson.

The Yangon regional government has said that they will rein in the taxi industry after upgrading the Yangon Bus System (YBS) — it has been already a year but the government has yet to release any concrete plans for taxis.

“In my opinion, the government should have measures to prevent crime. And it should take serious action against rape cases by using death penalty [capital punishment]. All girls should be wary of their taxi drivers,” said Ko Thar Aung from Mayangone township.

Source: Myanmar Times

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