Traffic at Jalan Bukit Bintang came to a standstill this morning (Tuesday, 29th March) as taxi drivers staged a protest against app-based ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab.
The demonstration saw a group of local taxi drivers gathered outside the Fahrenreit 88 shopping mall. The protest started at 10am, and by 10:20am the whole stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang was blocked by approximately 100 taxis along the road, resulting in massive traffic jam.
According to reports, the Malaysian cabbies left their red and white vehicles unattended as an act of protest against the perceived lack of action by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar had recently decided that they were not going to ban app-based ride hailing service such as Uber and Grab.
The decision fanned the flames on the ongoing conflict between conventional taxi drivers and popular ride-hailing apps. “We were there to protest against Uber and GrabCar,” Malaysian Taxi Driver Transformation Association deputy president Kamarudin Mohd Hussain told The Star.
According to The Star, Kamarudin and 3 other drivers were also arrested. “Dang Wangi district police deputy chief Supt Habibi Majinji had tried but failed to negotiate with the taxi drivers’ representative. At about 11.45 am, the taxi drivers were ordered to disperse in 15 minutes or have action taken against them,” read the police report.
All vehicles driving into Jalan Bukit Bintang had to be redirected by KL traffic police to avoid the public being congested in the growing traffic mire. The road was later reopened at 12:30pm, Free Malaysia Today reported.
“Who would not resort to Uber and GrabCar when taxi fares are no longer affordable. It’s demand and supply. People will resort to an cheaper alternative when one is available. Taxi operators should accept reality and move on. If you can’t fight them join them lah,” Facebook user Fathol Zaman Bukhari suggested.