E-hailing industry awaiting directives on rules for drivers

Any new rulings on the e-hailing sector will impact an estimated 400,000 drivers

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By TMR

The ride-hailing sector is still in the dark over the government’s announcement that app-based transport providers are subject to the same regulations as taxi operators and drivers.

Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak had recently announced that all ride-hailing drivers must comply to the same rules that govern taxi drivers. The Cabinet endorsed the new rules for ride-hailing on April 6, 2018, the last Cabinet meeting before the dissolution of the Parliament the day after.

Under the new rules, app-based transport-fetching drivers must undergo background checks, health screening, training and vehicle roadworthiness inspections, similar to regular taxis.

A source in the e-hailing sector said there has been no official directive given to operators, despite the laws having been approved and enforced on April 6, 2018.

“We are unsure of how to proceed because we do not know what is going on yet. At the moment, the sector is waiting for further instructions,” the source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

A few e-hailing companies contacted by TMR said they have not received any official instructions from the Land Public Transport Commision (SPAD), the authority that governs the sector. SPAD did not respond in time for publication.

Any new rulings on the e-hailing sector will impact an estimated 400,000 drivers.

Previously, e-hailing drivers were not subject to the strict regulations as cabbies, drawing the ire of local taxi drivers.

A few skirmishes occurred between taxi and e-hailing drivers during the initial introduction of the latter. Due to the overwhelming responses from both drivers and users, the government had to step in and introduce laws to allow ride-hailing service to co-exist in the public transport ecosystem.

Traditional cabbies had also lost a substantial amount of their income as consumers sought the app-based services for their daily rides.

A taxi driver, who wanted to be known as Leong, said he lost a lot of income due to e-hailing services.

“I started driving a taxi to support the household income about 10 years ago after getting retrenched.

“Then, people started saying these services are cheaper and better. Some months, I lost between RM400 and RM550.”

“A lot of us taxi drivers feel like the rules should apply to everyone if we’re going to call ourselves a part of public transport. So yes, the new regulations should apply to all,” he told TMR.

The new rules that govern ride-hailing drivers were meant to create a level playing field.

Before the announcement, ride-hailing drivers’ particulars were already being screened for criminal records and those identified to have such misdemeanours were removed from the list.

Ride-hailing companies have been working closely to implement the rules related to services, especially to improve the safety of passengers.