Tour van drivers struggle with ‘zero’ income

27 Nov 2020 / 18:55 H.

PETALING JAYA: More than 100 tour van drivers nationwide have almost zero income since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

V. Sivakumar, who has been in the industry for the past 15 years, told theSun that he has been on “survival mode” after being retrenched last month.

“I had served for the past six years and my basic pay was RM900 a month. We worked on a commission basis. For instance, if there were four trips a day, I would get RM80. On a good month, I could get between RM3,000 and RM4,000,” he said.

To help him support his children, who are still in school, Sivakumar’s friends have roped him in for ad-hoc jobs as a transporter within the Klang Valley.

Though he is a beneficiary of the i-Lestari at RM500 a month, he said the amount is still insufficient.

“I’m still looking for a job,” Sivakumar, 44, said. “It’s been tough to cope.”

Tan Poon Chung, who has been operating the van tour business for the past four years, said he had to negotiate with the bank for a loan restructure.

“Before this, I could earn about RM20,000 a month, but now my revenue is almost zero,” he said.

Having to pay the loans for three vehicles used to transport passengers, he is now driving for others.

“I could get at least RM30 a trip,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Tour Van Drivers Association chairman Simon Sim said the pandemic had impacted the tourism industry heavily.

“We have sent letters to the prime minister and MPs to meet us, but until today, there has been no response,” he told theSun yesterday.

“There are members who had to hide their vehicles to avoid being towed by the bank due to unpaid instalments.”

He urged the government to extend the moratorium on loans to lighten the burden faced by the group members.

“We are also required to obtain a letter from our customers to prove that we’ve been appointed to deliver their goods,” he said.

The drivers need to apply for a permit to continue their operations from the Land Public Transport Agency to apply for a temporary licence. This would allow them to deliver goods needed by their customers, he said.

“The application takes time, and there are customers who have withdrawn their service purchase with us, seeking refunds,” Sim added.

He also hoped that the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry would step in to help them continue their operations.

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