KUCHING - The traditional river taxi or locally known as "perahu tambang" operators in Sarawak are appealing to the state goverment for a fare review which has not been done since more than 10 years ago.
Sarawak River Taxis Association chairman Rosli Hidin said the current fare of 40 sen per passenger was no longer acceptable, considering the rising operational costs and cost of living.
"We are proposing that the present fare be increased to RM1 per passenger, and it is still affordable for those who frequently use our service," he told Bernama, here, today.
Rosli said the traditional water taxi operators were only allowed to charge RM1 per passenger for service after 10 pm, but during the normal weekdays, weekends and public holidays, they must adhere to the 40 sen per passenger charge.
"I think it is a fair demand since previously most of us rowed our boats but now the boats are engine-powered," he said, adding that even the proposed increased fare would not cover the maintenance cost of the boat engines.
Rosli said the operators had sought a fare increase before and proposed 50 sen per passenger, but the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), which oversees riverine development in the state, only allowed the fare to be at 40 sen which had been retained until today.
"I am puzzled why the SRB allowed a RM1 fare for the water taxi service in the Kota Samarahan area and not in Kuching which provides similar service.
"We really hope the state goverment will look into our plight as the present fare has not been reviewed for a long time," he added.
The association currently has 60 members.
The traditional river taxis here that have been in service since the colonial days, are normally made of timber and each can accommodate six to eight passengers.
Connecting the villages across the river to nearby shopping complexes, offices, hotels and other facilities in the city, these traditional water taxis have become one of Sarawak's tourism icons. - Bernama