Tuesday March 12, 2013
Lahad Datu: Arrival of journalists turns into silver lining for taxi drivers
LAHAD DATU: Every cloud has a silver lining, and taxi drivers here can attest to that.
Many shops have been closed for business following the Sulu gunmen's appearance but taxi drivers and car rental operators are earning big bucks from the hoards of pressmen who have descended upon the district to cover the intrusion.
Some of them have earned almost RM15,000 thanks to the surging demand for rented vehicles or chartered taxis.
Lahad Datu taxi and car rental association chairman Jalalkamis Raupong said the arrival of Malaysian and international journalists had been good for their business.
“We have earned between RM5,000 and RM15,000 in less than a month,” he said.
“Previously, we had to compete very hard with others. Our income was low,” he said.
Taxi drivers and car rental operators who were “daring enough” to work these days had earned more than what they used to earn in six months or even a year, Jalalkamis said.
He said a one-way trip to Tanjung Labian or Felda Sahabat 16 from Lahad Datu town would cost about RM150. Those who prefer to charter a vehicle would be charged RM500 for a trip from 8am to 10pm.
“Although some drivers were required to drive about 300km or further if they enter Tanjung Labian, they do not mind as long as the money comes in,” he said.
Jalalkamis said there had been some restrictions in access to certain areas following the shootout in Tanduo and Semporna.
“Drivers are now required to put up a sign stating media' before they are allowed to pass,” he said.
However, some other drivers had also decided to forgo the business opportunity as they feared for their safety, he added.