Less than 20,000 e-hailing drivers ready for deadline amid concerns on fare increase

Industry players have warned in April that the sector might suffer a shortage of drivers, which will lead to rising fares for users

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

E-HAILING drivers are rushing to obtain their Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence as the deadline ends next week, triggering concerns that there would be a price increase as only more than 16,000 candidates are qualified for it.

“Looking at the overall number of e-hailing drivers in Malaysia, if only 16,338 have sat for examinations, it clearly shows a huge number of the rest haven’t completed it,” an industry player who declined to be named told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

“From our own figures, we can say that less than 10% of our drivers have obtained their PSV licence,” the source added.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said in the last three months, about 62% of 16,338 candidates had completed the PSV examinations.

Loke said Selangor had the highest number of registered applicants at 5,783 with 2,472 passes, followed by Kuala Lumpur with 4,580 applicants and 1,944 passes, and Johor with 4,453 applicants and 1,169 passes.

However, it was reported that the total number of e-hailing drivers across Malaysia was approximately 200,000 last year.

Industry players have warned in April that the e-hailing sector might suffer a shortage of drivers, which will lead to increasing fares for users.

Loke was reported as saying that out of 200,000 drivers, about three quarter of them are part timers.

He also assured that the PSV licence would not impact pricing. “There are no base fares for e-hailing as the ceiling price depends on market conditions,” he told the Dewan Rakyat earlier this week.

Malaysian E-hailing Drivers Association president Daryl Chong told TMR the 16,338 figure could refer to the amount of candidates who sat for the PSV exam.

This indicates that there are more than 183,000 drivers who are currently still undergoing one of the processes or have not started at all.

He said the feedback he had garnered from being on the ground included reasons on why the PSV take-up is low at this particular juncture.

“Some drivers have said they are expecting the government to make a U-turn. I was told some expected the government to either delay the deadline or cancel the whole process. Some drivers have also waited till the last minute because of financial constraints when it comes to sorting out money for each process,” he said.

According to Chong, drivers seem to be confused on what kind of assistance is provided for them by e-hailing companies. Some are not even aware of the deadline.

“Surprisingly, a lot of them do not read the emails or notifications they receive from respective companies. I’ve been asked what expenses can be claimed or not, showing the level of unsureness among drivers,” he said.

Chong projected that e-hailing fares would increase and pick-up distances may also go further than the current situation.

“Based on the current supply and demand algorithm, if there is a shortage of drivers, the fares could end up being charged twice as much.

“The e-hailing companies may have to take some losses to keep fares competitive, while waiting for all drivers to complete the licence (processes) and for things to settle down,” Chong said.

Another e-hailing insider told TMR that despite a substantial number of drivers completing the six-hour training course both online and in institutions, they are facing delays pending an exam date and time slot from the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

The exams are meant to be held at certain centres where JPJ officers will be the invigilators.

“Many are still waiting for their turn, while there are others who have to re-sit the exam, so this looks like it will be an ongoing process even after the deadline,” the source said.

The exam is the final process which drivers have to go through, after completing car checks, health screening and the PSV training.

The theoretical test questions for the PSV licence were developed through the Taxi Training and E-Hailing New Training Module Development Committee comprising agencies such as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Road Safety Department, Skills Development Department, Malaysian Road Safety Research Institute and academicians from public universities in Malaysia.