MyTeksi arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in December 2014 and had grand plans for transforming the taxi landscape, which – in Kota Kinabalu – is dominated by taxi drivers colluding to not use their government-mandated meters and charge whatever fares they want.
Many months passed and MyTeksi is no nearer to getting stubborn Kota Kinabalu taxi drivers to use their meters and for all intents and purposes it seems as if they stopped trying and are, in fact, legitimising high fares. The only silver lining is that it’s now easier to get a taxi from places outside of the city center where taxis usually don’t roam.
What is MyTeksi?
MyTeksi is an app with which to arrange your taxi rides in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (and plenty of other places where they’re already established, internationally as GrabTaxi).
MyTeksi removes the pain of finding a taxi, convincing the driver to go where you want, and arguing about the price, not an uncommon occurrence if a passenger is as stubborn as the drivers ( Kota Kinabalu Taxi Tales ).
Will MyTeksi Succeed?
Kota Kinabalu is not a big city, but a late night or a stormy day can make a taxi unavoidable if you don’t have your own transport – more so for tourists and other visitors to the city.
Like previously in Kuala Lumpur, taxi drivers in Kota Kinabalu are a law unto themselves. They are supposed to use meters, but don’t; they are supposed to charge according to prices set by the Transport Department (LPKP), but don’t. Instead they seemingly charge whatever they feel like with no guide or consequence, other than leaving a bad taste in their customer’s mouth.
The authorities seem powerless to do anything about it – Sabah Tourism blames LPKP, LPKP blames the Taxi Association and when we called the Taxi Association’s director to find out how taxi drivers determine their fares, he pretended to lose reception and hung up on us. So really, the only people who can do something about it are you and I, the customers.
There are very few ways to facilitate such a movement. In Kuala Lumpur MyTeksi worked eventually to transform exactly this situation into one where customers once again are king and taxi drivers actually have to provide taxi services.
Kota Kinabalu is different.
The few locals who have to use taxis probably have regular drivers with who they negotiated a reasonable rate. The bulk of MyTeksi users would be the transient population of Kota Kinabalu – the tourists and the visitors. To get this ever-changing group of people to use MyTeksi in numbers large enough to make a difference, will be an uphill battle for MyTeksi.
Take Your Chances with MyTeksi
MyTeksi makes getting a taxi in Kota Kinabalu a little easier, but it also formalises the high fees that taxi drivers charge by not making the meter a requirement to be part of the MyTeksi network.
An added hilarity is that MyTeksi advises that a “Government Mandated Booking Fee of RM2” will be charged by the driver. The meter is also “Government Mandated“, which means the taxi drivers ignore the one mandate while insisting on the other.
Next time you’re taking in a taxi Kota Kinabalu do discuss this situation with your driver.