It’s a slow road to normalcy for taxi drivers despite the reopening of borders and the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions.
Zulkifli Zainudin, 61, said that although there is better demand for taxi service these days, it was still a far cry from the pre-pandemic days.
“Things are progressing slowly at the moment but at least there are some improvements compared to before the borders reopened.
“It will take time for things to get back to normal or even to get to half of what we were earning before.
“We are looking forward to better days and I think the situation will improve in the next two months,” the taxi driver said.
Zulkifli said the majority of the passengers he drove to Singapore from Johor were Malaysians working in the island republic.
Meanwhile, Rahmat Jamil, 65, said he was relieved to be able to send passengers to Singapore after two years.
“We are still waiting hours at Larkin Sentral for passengers, but at least we can get into Singapore now.
“I am able to send at least one or two passengers to Singapore daily and I think the number will slowly increase,” he said.
In Pontian, the reopening of the Kukup international ferry terminal has given local taxi drivers a glimmer of hope.
Abdul Razak Abd Rahman, 58, said most of his customers were ferry passengers, especially from Indonesia.
“Residents are not enthusiastic about using our service because most of them have their own vehicle.
“We only depend on people coming from Indonesia and when the ferry terminal was closed, we lost our source of income.
“Many taxi drivers in Kukup who have farms have decided to focus on agricultural activities in the past two years.
“Only now can we see some of them returning to the Kukup taxi stand,” he said.
Abdul Razak added that currently the ferry service operates only two round trips between Johor and Tanjung Balai, Indonesia.
“The number of passengers we receive is still very low compared to pre-pandemic days, when there were five round trips between Johor and Tanjung Balai.
“We were told that the number of trips would gradually increase and we hope that will happen soon,” he said.
Abdul Razak said there were about 30 taxi drivers at the Kukup terminal, but only about 10 were waiting daily for passengers.
“Many prefer to take care of their farms because they want to wait for the situation to improve further,” he added.