E-hailing drivers group unhappy with 3-month extension on PSV licence

Mehda says it is unfair to drivers who have followed the ruling and complied with the process earlier

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government’s three-month extension for e-hailing drivers to obtain the public service vehicle (PSV) licence or the e-hailing vehicle permit (EVP) has caused dissatisfaction among some of the drivers.

Malaysian E-hailing Drivers Association (Mehda) president Daryl Chong was disappointed in Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s decision as it was unfair to those who complied earlier.

“It is a victory for the drivers who didn’t complete the process while some, on the other hand, had to do things like cancel their insurances in order to get the correct ones for e-hailing. It’s not fair,” Chong told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Despite the extension, he predicted that there will be drivers who would not be ready and continue to give excuses.

“There will still be some who’d claim that there wasn’t enough time. We are waiting to see what will happen in three months and will advise the minister against giving drivers more time.

Big Blue Taxi Facilities Sdn Bhd advisor Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail told TMR the taxi industry is very displeased with the announcement.

He said the Road Transport Department (RTD) officers were ready to fully enforce the rules but had been told not to by the ministry.

“We are not picking on any e-hailing operator (EHO), but these regulations were meant to go into force last week. There is no need for an education or soft landing, the drivers are not children.

“The issue still remains that e-hailing drivers are picking up passengers illegally without the correct insurance and charging lower fares,” he added.

Shamsubahrin said the taxi industry will continue to fight this three-month extension, but encouraged taxi drivers to take advantage of this rule while drivers are out completing the process.

“We’ll use this month to market the taxi industry. We’ve been asking people to download the Big Blue Taxi app. Our fares are based on metre and customers have been happy so far,” he said.

At a recent media briefing, Loke announced that the next PSV deadline is Oct 12, 2019, where those who have yet to meet requirements can still ply the roads.

The initial plan, which came with the first deadline, was to completely halt them from picking up passengers. This was a “soft-landing” approach where the ministry and RTD will focus on educating drivers in phases and work on sending out final warnings to drivers.

“Many drivers are still in the middle of the process, which was why we asked them not to wait to get started at the last minute. We saw thousands of drivers rushing to complete the course and book exams.

“So, this is our decision when we were asked for more time, as we do not want to cause major disruptions for e-hailing users,” he said.

As of July 11, there were 17,596 approved EVPs, with 4,216 allocated for taxis and 13,380 for private vehicles.

Loke said the numbers will continue to climb as more EVPs are approved each day.

“So far, 31,731 candidates have registered for the six-hour training course in 226 institutes, where 25,248 have completed the training and 19,891 have passed the PSV.

“Besides the institutions, 16,528 candidates attended the training course with their EHOs where 3,090 candidates have passed. So overall, 22,981 candidates have successfully passed the PSV licence,” Loke said.

However, he reminded the 31 registered EHOs that the enforcement of rules will go on as planned, saying the ministry will be monitoring these operators.

“We are just giving drivers more time to get sorted but enforcement is not being postponed. We hope there are no more excuses after this because we are trying to reach a goal where it does not affect anyone,” Loke said.

Grab Malaysia in a statement said it was appreciative of the ruling as there was a 20% drop in drivers on the road last Friday, which caused difficulties for users.

The EHO said it was a fair decision and in the next three months, it will commit to continue helping and building its community of drivers in finalising the process for PSV and EPV.

Additionally, Loke said another issue which has been decided and will be fully enforced was the amount of commission allowed to be taken from drivers by EHOs across the country.

“The maximum percentage the government has set is 20%. We know of some EHOs that use different terms and words to add an extra 5%, but this is no longer allowed.

“Any EHO taking more than 20% commission will face the consequences,” he said.

A source had revealed that an EHO took up to 25% of commission from newer drivers.

Loke warned these operators not to try and beat the system as he has people moving within the drivers’ portals and will be informed.

“We have our own intelligence. We will continue to enforce the rules in a fair and just manner, and we expect EHOs to comply,” he said.

Loke’s ministry will also closely monitor any form of fare hikes, noting some EHOs had warned their customers of this. This, he noted, was an attempt to force the government to retract the regulations.

“These are the strategies EHOs are using, but I see no reason why there should be fewer drivers or higher fares now.

“We are allowing drivers to continue working so this should not at all be the cause for any of this,” he said.

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