IF THERE was a competition for Singapore’s top taxi driver, Mr Gerald Chan would be a top pick.
The 64-year-old has been plying the roads for 30 years, and has yet to receive a single complaint.
He is also president of the 17,000-strong National Taxi Association. But that does not win him any perks. “I still have to drive to cover the daily taxi rental,” he pointed out.
The soft-spoken man rents a Hyundai i40 taxi from ComfortDelGro and drives it Monday to Fridays as a day shift driver, sharing his cab with relief drivers at night and on weekends.
Besides plying the roads, he also volunteers at the taxi association and NTUC at least twice a week, helping cabbies write appeals for traffic fines or attending meetings to discuss policies that affect cab drivers, for instance.
This despite the effect on his bottom line. “There is a direct cost for us self-employed when we volunteer, because we can earn about $20 each hour when we drive,” said Mr Chan.
“For every meeting we attend or each time we volunteer, we have to work harder and drive longer to cover rentals.”
But, he admits, there are fewer financial pressures now.
His wife is retired and his Simei flat is fully paid for.
“I used to earn up to $3,000 a month when I was younger, but now I have to slow down because I am older.”
At the May Day dinner tomorrow, the veteran cabby will be receiving the Comrade of Labour award for his years of volunteering at the taxi association.
In a written citation, NTUC praised Mr Chan for speaking up for taxi drivers and volunteering at the taxi association since 1997.
Although he has slowed down in taxi driving, he does not plan to cut down on his volunteer work.
One of his goals, for instance, is to introduce a new defensive driving course for taxi drivers.