Most motorists polled by Malaysiakini do not agree with the proposed plan to ban ‘kapcai’ motorcycles from entering downtown Kuala Lumpur, especially motorcycle users from the lower-income group who commute daily into the capital city

One of those who question the ban proposed by Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is Ahmad Fadli Nazari, 34, from Damansara who works at a government-linked company.

“First of all, the ban, even if it is at a the proposal stage, actually goes against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s pledge to always listen to the pulse of the people.

“For example if it (the ban) is imposed, should despatch workers who deliver documents from an office (here) to another one outside the city centre use the LRT to deliver the documents entrusted to them?” asked Ahmad Fadli.

This, he stressed, will cause hardships to the lower income groups, far be it from the government listening to their needs.

“This proposal will make it difficult for the bottom 40 percent (B40) and middle 40 percent (M40) to do their jobs,” he told Malaysiakini.

On Monday, Tengku Adnan said that smaller capacity engined motorcycle in the 50 to 150cc range, commonly referred to as kapcai, may be banned from entering downtown Kuala Lumpur, as part of planned measures to reduce carbon emissions as is being done in cities elsewhere.

However, he said that the ban will only be enforced if public transport fares are at reasonable levels.

Commenting further, Ahmad Fadli said that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) should take more proactive steps in reducing carbon emissions.

“At the same time, could look into limiting with higher capacity engines if it is serious in wanting to reduce carbon emissions.

“Or if they want to make extra income, it can charge a carbon emissions tax on large capacity-engined cars that seek to enter Kuala Lumpur’s golden triangle area,” said Ahmad Fadli, who has been riding a kapcai in the capital for 10 years, in order to cope with the increasingly busy city.

He also slammed the view that restricting the entry of kapcais will prevent snatch thefts.

“Linking the restriction on the entry of kapcais with reducing snatch thefts is a dangerous stereotype perpetuated by the political elite against the lower classes. The minister should be smarter and should not come out with such statement,” he said.

‘Don’t cars cause more pollution?’

Meanwhile mechanic Abdul Rahman Zainuddin, 25, from Puchong, said that economic uncertainties here and abroad made him wonder if the minister know what he is talking about.

For Abdul Rahman, the proposal will only add to the burdens already borne by the rakyat.

“What is being proposed will cause hardship and burden the people and I oppose it totally.

“Most people today are struggling and would not be able to do as the minister asks and buy a superbike, especially in the present economic situation. We can’t afford it.

“Don’t tell me that the people must get a superbike just to get into the city? All while trying to find money to survive?” asked Abdul Rahman.

He added that the idea makes no sense, for while every vehicle with an engine emits carbon, the level emitted is determined by whether it is a two-stroke or four-stroke engine.

“If it is a two-stroke engine, of course it emits thick smoke which causes pollution, but there is none with four-stroke engines, which most cars and motorcycle use.

“So I think it is improper to ban kapcai from entering Kuala Lumpur. Its only that if they want to reduce (carbon emissions) they have to tell motorcycle factories to cease production of two-stroke engined motorcycles. Easy enough,” said Abdul Rahman.

Another fellow kapcai rider, Rajan Simatram, 55 (photo), said that while he owns a car, he still prefers riding his motorcycle as it was more convenient and he could avoid the city’s high parking charges.

“Don’t burden the lower income group, if they are affluent and have plenty of money they can come into Kuala Lumpur and park their cars anywhere.

“I have two cars but I chose not to drive as the Kuala Lumpur roads are so congested every day that it can stress me out, what more with the high parking fees,” said Rajan.

He said that the government should look to more proactive measures instead of imposing bans.

‘Not all kapcai riders are bad’

Meanwhile, for student Mohd Farizuan Kamalulail, 23 (photo), from Banting, the kapcai is cost-effective and helps to alleviate his cost of living.

“The country’s (uncertain) economy is becoming a burden for the rakyat.

“A kapcai saves fuel and allows us to evade traffic congestion to arrive at our workplace or go to classes. We also can only afford kapcais and the minister’s proposal will make it difficult for us as we have been using kapcai since long ago.

“In any case not only kapcais emit carbon, other vehicles do, too. Why nott ban them all,” asked Mohd Farizuan.

Commenting on the issue of snatch thefts, he argued that not all kapcai owners are irresponsible persons who do such things.

“Not all kapcai users are snatch thieves or mat rempits (illegal racers), most of us just want a convenient way to fill our transportation need.

“What more with rising oil prices,” stressed Mohd Farizuan.

He argued that it is not fair to just blame kapcai owners when even some high-powered motorcycle owners are involved in criminal activities.

“Like in snatch theft cases, it is best for them to use superbikes as they are faster in case they are chased by cops, kapcai users like us, no matter how you run, the police can easily catch us.

“Don’t just blame us kapcai owners,” said Mohd Farizuan.

Look abroad

However one motorist, businessperson Ahmad Zaidi Masri from Kuala Lumpur, agreed with the proposed kapcai ban.

He added that the presence of kapcais also soils the image of the city.

“It’s unsightly, (we must impose the ban) if we want to be like Tokyo, Hong Kong, or even Singapore,” sniped Ahmad Zaidi (photo).

However, he admitted that when it comes to health, the ones that mainly pollute Kuala Lumpur air are the many cars that packed the city streets.

“Everybody wants to drive their own car. All want to be comfortable. Try to stop by at the yellow box of hell at the junction between Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang during rush hour, for us motorcycle users it is easy to navigate.

“Maybe the minister needs to find an alternative for the car owners,” he said.

– M’kini