By MARK RAO
Malaysia’s most popular ride-sharing companies, Grab and Uber, said they will adapt their business to comply with the government’s latest move to regulate the sector — driver vetting.
The vetting is part of sweeping amendments the government has proposed for two transportation laws that would rein in some of the freedom that has seen ride-sharing companies siphon business away from traditional taxis in Malaysia.
Other changes to the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act 1987 and Land Public Transport Act 2010 would also require ride-sharing drivers to be licensed, as well as penalties imposed if they break regulations. Presently, Grab and Uber are responsible for the safety and satisfaction of their customers.
Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh said the company will cooperate with government agencies to ensure changes like screening and background checks for its drivers, while reducing any impact on daily operations.
“At the moment, we have not received an official directive from the authorities, but we are willing to work alongside them to ensure that all parties’ needs and concerns — both passengers and drivers — are taken into consideration,” Goh told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an emailed response.
“We will review our internal processes to try to minimise the impact it may have on our day-to-day operations, drivers and passengers.”
Uber Technologies Inc — which is based in San Francisco, the US — said the company welcomes the opportunity to work with the Malaysian agencies on the proposed new regulations because driver and rider safety is the company’s major concern, but also hopes that the same level of standards would be applied to regular transport operators in Malaysia.
“We hope that the government will also look at this issue comprehensively across the industry and include all other public transport operators such as taxis and buses,” a spokesperson for Uber told TMR when contacted.
“Further, we want to work with the relevant agencies such as the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) to leverage recent advances in technology so that the process does not become unnecessarily onerous or manually-driven.”
SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said recently that these rule changes are being made to address the growing complaints over ride-sharing drivers and will ensure a safe and well-regulated e-hailing industry.
“It is of utmost urgency as there have been various incidents and we are getting more and more reports — we are very concerned and want the laws to be passed in Parliament as soon as possible,” Syed Hamid was reported as saying recently.
The proposed amendments to the laws governing the land public transportation sector were tabled for a first reading in Parliament on March this year, but have since been delayed to the upcoming sitting in July.
Meanwhile, both Grab and Uber said they have extensive background checks and vetting processes in place for its drivers, which are conducted by licensed third-party vendors, while leveraging on GPS and tracking technology to provide further protection.
“We will continue to review and improve on these processes and technologies, so that riders may travel safely, reliably and affordably every time,” the Uber spokesperson said.
Goh said Grab is committed to ensuring every ride from the company is safe for all affected parties.
“Our safety initiatives are not exhaustive and we are constantly reviewing our processes to see what else we can do,” he said.