E-hailing firm supporting its drivers, who are mainly part-timers that cannot afford whole cost upfront
By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
GRAB Malaysia is expected to provide financial assistance to its drivers who are struggling to meet the requirements that are part of the government’s regulation exercise for the e-hailing industry.
Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh (picture) said while the total cost might not add up for the company, it is necessary for the company to support its drivers who are mainly part-timers that cannot afford the whole amount at one go.
“About 80% of our drivers are part-timers. From what we’ve seen, it’ll cost about RM200 for the training modules, while medical and car inspections would be about RM60. Insurance alone will amount to about RM400 and there’s more.
“I know some drivers won’t be able to fork out RM700 or RM800 for that cost upfront,” he told The Malaysian Reserve at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Goh said the new regulations are expected to add cost to the system, and through time, the process might just cause friction among the drivers.
He assured that Grab will be assisting its drivers to go through the processes as smoothly as possible with minimal issues.
“For drivers who have hit certain milestones and have contributed to Grab with strong ratings, we will look at various ways we can help.
“We are committed to helping our drivers, they are our biggest stakeholders. We have not finalised how much we will invest until we know for sure the processes that will be needed,” Goh said.
He said the company will begin the process as soon as the relevant authorities announce the terms and conditions.
“We know the cut off date is July 12, 2019, but I can tell you none of the processes have started yet and details have not been fully released.
“We have been and are in contact with the Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD),” he said.
According to Goh, the drop-off rate for drivers will be affected significantly, but Grab will strive to get everyone across with no hassle.
“Where we land will depend on how smoothly we can help transit our drivers. The possibility of losing drivers is there — maybe 20% or 30%, some have even said 70%.
“It is sad because this will ultimately tax the system and lead to a lower availability of drivers and higher fares for passengers,” he said.
On ride prices, Goh said there have been no increases so far, despite the perception that fares have spiked after the company’s merger with Uber.
“It was a misconception that we increased fares. We’ve looked at comparisons including after the merger that took place in April.
“In July, Malaysians celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which led to a shortage of drivers, so naturally, prices went up. Now, we are concerned that regulatory processes will drive prices upwards, but we will try and mitigate it,” Goh said.
He added that Grab currently invests much in incentives for drivers and will continue to do so for the coming year.
“We constantly try to ensure that drivers are at the right places at the right hours, so that they can earn more. The commision taken is still 20% to 25% and we will keep it that way for now,” he said.
One of the concerns that Grab has today is the concept of drivers cherry-picking their rides.
Goh said some drivers tend to see some rides as more beneficial to others and will not accept bookings.
“For these drivers, we take a 25% commission to deter them from cherry-picking. It affects the whole system when drivers choose their rides because passengers end up waiting longer and drivers would have to go further distances to pick them up.
“But for the majority, we take a 20% commission,” Goh said.
He added that removing the ability for drivers to see the end destination will not be fair to the those who are currently diligent and responsible in accepting rides.
“Some apps like Uber allow passengers to not specify where they are going, but we have spoken to our drivers and taken into consideration what they want, which is to see the destination. And we want to honour that.”
Goh said Grab has many plans for 2019, including upping safety options for drivers and passengers.
He said currently, drivers are all verified but they will look into the use of advanced technologies like facial recognition to identify and verify passengers as well.
“Its something very new we are looking into, but we want both drivers and passengers to feel safe at all times.”
Goh said the company will not create any gender-specific service for females as it believes that its service are safe and reliable