Drivers reluctant to join Grab as regulations get tighter

Company says any adjustment in the policy that incurs extra cost would be sensitive to the drivers

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The government’s new rules on Grab drivers in the country have dented drivers’ interest in the e-hailing service, said the company’s country head Sean Goh (picture).

Goh said there was an apparent drop of drivers following the government’s announcement last month, which requires e-hailing drivers to register their vehicles, conduct vehicle inspection and meet operational requirements before offering their services.

“The challenge we are seeing is that drivers, especially the part-time drivers, are now discouraged from signing up.

“We are hoping to actually alleviate that situation by ensuring drivers that the changes are going to be gradual, and we are going to guide them through these changes,” Goh told reporters after meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“It is very important for us to make sure that when there is an inspection policy, it will be conducted as smooth as possible,” he said, adding that Grab contributes to more than 30% on average to the household income in the country.

“So, our focus is really to make sure that it will be as easy and as cheap as possible for our drivers to sign up.

“A major aspect like training is regarded as timeconsuming, which also means loss of income for them. So, we want to try to digitise that as much as possible, such as feed it to the journey of driving, so it will not become an upfront hurdle,” he said.

According to Goh, 80% of Grab drivers are part-timers who use the platform for supplementary income.

Thus, he said any adjustment in the policy that incurs extra cost would be sensitive to the drivers.

Based on the Land Public Transport Commission data, there are about 300,000 registered e-hailing drivers in the country as of the first quarter this year.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke had said e-hailing providers are given a one-year grace period to comply with these new rules, which are aimed to create a level playing field with the taxi industry.

E-hailing faced strong objections from the conventional taxi drivers as they claimed that the regulations are too lax for the industry.

Among the new rules announced by Loke last month included the RM115 charge annually for Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence, a sixhour training course to obtain the PSV licence charged at RM200, and insurance plans for the car, drivers, passengers and third party.

Separately, Bernama reported that another digitalbased company, iflix, aims to increase the amount of locally produced content for its subscribers.

Co-founder and group CEO Mark Britt said this could be achieved through collaborations with government bodies and the local creative community.

“Malaysians have extraordinary talent and ideas which are more than capable to produce content that can attract mass audience.

“For this year, we are looking to produce five to 10 projects (original content), but we are optimistic that we can do more as demand for local content is increasing,” he told reporters after the CEP meeting yesterday.

The company, which claims to be the world’s leading entertainment service for emerging markets, recently achieved 15 million subscribers on the back of a 250% growth since January 2018.