Calls for reg­u­la­tion of mo­tor­cy­cle taxis in Man­dalay

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - PHYO WAI KYAW phy­owaikyaw@mm­

MAN­DALAY res­i­dent Ko Kyaw al­ways takes mo­tor­cy­cle taxis to go from the Ky­wal Sal Kan High­way bus ter­mi­nal ev­ery time he re­turns to Man­dalay from Yan­gon on busi­ness. He al­ways feels un­safe but he has no other choice.

Some mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driv­ers tell their pas­sen­gers to wear helmest but some even don’t keep ex­tra hel­mets for pas­sen­gers. Pas­sen­gers like Ko Kyaw are anx­ious about ac­ci­dents but they have no choice and take the taxis, and pray.

There is also the fear of rob­bery along des­o­late stretches of road and there have been re­ports of sev­eral this year.

Ko Kyaw mostly reaches Man­dalay at dawn and he takes mo­tor­cy­cle taxis so he doesn’t have to bother his fam­ily to pick him up at that early hour.

“I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced of any ac­ci­dents due to speed­ing mo­tor­cy­cle taxis yet or be­ing robbed by a mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver, but I al­ways worry ev­ery time I ride,” he said.

It’s not just the pas­sen­gers who worry about the state of the ser­vice, Even some mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driv­ers say they feel un­safe due to rob­beries and stab­bings.

Mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver Ko Thant Zin Win says crime cre­ates doubt be­tween pas­sen­gers and driv­ers.

“The pas­sen­ger does not trust the driver. Like­wise, the driver does not trust the pas­sen­ger. Although I’m a mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver, even I get scared,” said Ko Thant Zin Win.

He says one of his reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers, a univer­sity pro­fes­sor, only rides with him be­cause she was once threat­ened by two men and robbed of her neck­lace.

While Ko Thant Zin Win pri­ori­tises the safety of his pas­sen­gers, many driv­ers have a more lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude.

It is not un­usual to see mo­tor­cy­cle taxis car­ry­ing dan­ger­ous loads or more than one pas­sen­ger.

Traf­fic Po­lice Force Cap­tain Kyaw Kyaw Aung says there are some 15,000 traf­fic ac­ci­dents a year in and around Man­dalay, mostly due to reck­less driv­ing and speed­ing

Even he has had ex­pe­ri­ences of rude and dan­ger­ous mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driv­ers.

“Once, I had to go to an­other town­ship and when I reached there, I hired a three-wheeled taxi. He asked for K3000 and dur­ing the jour­ney he stopped at a house for some rea­son. When he came back out, he ap­peared very an­gry and started driv­ing very fast and dan­ger­ously. When I asked him to slow down, he threat­ened to hit me, not re­al­is­ing I was a po­lice of­fi­cer,” Cap­tain Kyaw Kyaw Aung re­counted, adding that taxi driv­ers should fol­low traf­fic rules and be cour­te­ous as they are ser­vice providers.

An­other ex­am­ple of bad be­hav­ior among mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driv­ers cited by mem­bers of the pub­lic is the mad scram­ble for pas­sen­gers when­ever long-dis­tance buses reach a ter­mi­nal. Pas­sen­gers say the taxi driv­ers al­most ap­pear to be fight­ing for fares and pieces of lug­gage have been lost in the chaos.

The in­ter­net is full of sto­ries about taxi driv­ers de­mand­ing higher fares and get­ting ag­gres­sive if pas­sen­gers refuse.

De­spite the nu­mer­ous com­plaints, the au­thor­i­ties have not been able to come up with a sys­tem to reg­u­late mo­tor­cy­cle and three-wheeled taxis in Man­dalay.

“Call­ing the taxis through phone ap­pli­ca­tions would be bet­ter for pas­sen­gers as the driver’s name, photo, and phone num­ber would be re­quired, and peo­ple would have a place to call if they had com­plaints,” said Ko Thant Zin Win.

Although there is cur­rently a tax­i­hir­ing ser­vice via a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion be­ing run by pri­vate com­pa­nies, the sys­tem does not cover the whole city yet.

Given the cir­cum­stances, reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dures ap­pear nec­es­sary for the safety of ev­ery­one.

For ex­am­ple, a su­per­vi­sory or­gan­i­sa­tion for mo­tor­cy­cle and three-wheeled taxis could be formed to regis­ter them, ed­u­cate driv­ers about traf­fic rules, and to re­ceive com­plaints and to su­per­vise.

Proper taxi stands should also be set up at bus ter­mi­nals to avoid con­fu­sion.

Ko Thant Zin Win says, un­less a con­trol mech­a­nism for dif­fer­ent taxis is es­tab­lished, trav­ellers ar­riv­ing at Man­dalay will con­tinue to suf­fer frus­tra­tion.

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