Laws to regulate e-hailing industry passed

by P PREM KUMAR / Pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS

E-hailing services are now legal after Parliament passed amendments to transport laws yesterday, but the difficulties in implementing them on the already popular services will be in the details.

Lawmakers at Dewan Rakyat endorsed amendments to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 and Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act 1987, granting more than 50,000 e-hailing drivers the legitimacy to be on the road.

The amended laws — which still need to be technically endorsed by the Dewan Negara — are expected to come into force within months.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, who tabled the amendments, said the endorsement was “historic” for Malaysia because many countries are still mulling the idea of regulating e-hailing services like Uber.

“Many countries are watching us on regulating e-hailing services. Even countries like Australia and the US have not regulated this segment,” she said yesterday.

The specific terms and conditions for regulated e-hailing services are still being drawn, but the government said it will be worked out with all stakeholders — including service providers.

Under the amended Acts, ride-sharing drivers will need to obtain a driver’s permit from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and will need to pass screening by the police and Road Transport Department.

Taxi and e-hailing drivers will need to have their vehicles inspected annually. At the moment, taxis undergo such checks twice a year.

The new regulation also requires taxis and vehicles used for e-hailing services to have insurance coverage for passengers and third parties.

Nancy said the government expects a one-year grace period for the e-hailing service providers to adjust to the new conditions.

“Conditions currently imposed on taxi drivers such as medical check-up, periodic vehicle inspection, insurance coverage and driver’s card must now be adhered by e-hailing drivers,” she said.

E-hailing service providers are categorised as “intermediation business”. The laws encompass e-hailing vehicles with a seating capacity of four persons or more, ruling out two-wheeled vehicles.

Following the amendments, operating e-hailing services without permits could land drivers up to three years’ jail or a RM500,000 fine.

The proposed amendments also seek to introduce a new section to regulate licensing the intermediation business including application, conditions, renewal and revoking of the licences issued by SPAD.

The amendments provide protection for drivers, owners or operators of e-hailing services from assault or hindrance to conducting their service.

There were some 77,000 registered taxi drivers nationwide at the end of last year.

Over the next three years, about 150,000 new individual taxi, Uber and Grab drivers are expected to offer their services.

Meanwhile, Grab yesterday announced a few safety measures to protect passengers and drivers. These measures include free in-car dash cams to 3,500 selected top-performing drivers, an emergency button for passenger safety and Grab’s telematics programme to improve ride experience.

“Safety has always been a priority for Grab — it’s the foundation of how and why Grab came to be,” said Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh.

The one-touch emergency button in the passenger app will connect the passengers to the national emergency response service (MERS 999) in the event of an emergency. Grab will log all outgoing calls via the emergency button to follow-up with passengers and the authorities.