Dego Ride rides again, Gojek will engage with Malaysian govt

The govt announced it would embark on a PoC trial for ride-hailing on bikes starting January 2020


DEGO Ride has confirmed it will participate in the six-month trial run of the motorcycle taxi service while Indonesian Gojek welcomes the government’s move to open another new segment of the country’s ride-hailing sector.

The government announced this week that it would embark on a proof of concept (PoC) trial for ride-hailing on bikes starting January next year but the trial would be limited to Klang Valley.

Dego Ride had previously introduced the service but the idea of ferrying passengers on bikes was shot down by the government due to safety concerns.

Gojek told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) it would liaise with the related government agencies to understand the framework and decide the best manner to enter the local market.

Dego Ride CEO Nabil Feisal Bamadhaj said the company would use its position as the pioneer of the bike-hailing service in the country to push its business model.

“It will enable thousands of motorcyclists to help other commuters while promoting the public transport system and (we will also) be working with as many local and government parties to ensure the success of the PoC,” he told TMR.

Gojek said it appreciates the support and prospect of introducing its services in Malaysia and the move will add more choices for customers and help accelerate the growth of small businesses.

“We highly appreciate the warm support that has been expressed at the prospect of Gojek starting operations in Malaysia,” a Gojek spokesperson said in an email reply to TMR.

The Indonesia-based firm has been eyeing the Malaysian market despite resistance from taxi and e-hailing organisations in Malaysia.

Gojek, which is valued at US$5 billion (RM20.6 billion) as at February this year, said it had positive discussions with the Malaysian government about entering the market but had not decided the manner to be part of the country’s ride-hailing system.

The firm will communicate with the relevant ministries to understand the framework and how to approach a launch of the service.

“Although we have not yet determined the manner in which Gojek will enter, or the exact timings, we look forward to understanding the regulatory framework under which the pilot will be conducted,” the spokesperson said.

The firm added that its aim is to support the economy as a whole while adhering to all regulations.

“Our international expansion naturally includes carefully reviewing the local opportunities, challenges and regulations. Ultimately, we want to support governments as they develop the digital economy in ways that are inclusive, foster innovation and drive competition,” said the spokesperson.

Dego Ride first launched its service in late 2016 but it was banned in 2017 by the previous government, citing safety issue as the main concern.

It then restarted operations in August following Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed

Abdul Rahman’s proposal for Indonesia-based bike service company, Gojek, to enter the Malaysian market.

Dego Ride’s service, however, only lasted for a few hours before Putrajaya shuttered the service over the same reason.

Nabil said the company’s main objective is to provide the service with safety as a priority.

“That is why Dego Ride is keen on investing in technology built to ensure the safety and security of everyone on the road,” he said, adding that the system allows for the company to track movements of its riders and customers throughout the trip.

“Safety helmets, hairnets and masks are also safety items we plan on enhancing to provide to our customers,” he added.

Syed Saddiq was criticised for promoting Gojek instead of the Johor-based motorcycle taxi company.

Gojek, whose backers include Alphabet Inc’s Google and Chinese technology companies Tencent Holdings Ltd and Inc, was first established in Indonesia in 2010 while the service was launched in 2015.

It provides more than 20 services and operates in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

With the government’s approval to allow motorcycle taxi services in the country, Dego Ride would be competing with Gojek and other interested parties. Presently, bikes are widely used to deliver food and parcels.

Worsening traffic conditions in Kuala Lumpur and big cities make bikes the fastest mode of transport. But, the high accident rates of bike have heightened the concerns over the safety of bike-sharing services.

“Times have changed and having the opportunity to compete against a competitor will make us ensure the best delivery of services to the consumers and public,” said Nabil.

Public Transport Users Association president Ajit Johl said bike-hailing will address the issue of first- and last-mile connectivity.

The service will also be able to attract college or university students as they may be more willing to pay for the service considering that the cost will be lower than car-hailing services.

“We welcome it because we always try to figure out how to get millennials to use public transport,” he told TMR.

But Ajit said the process to allow a rider to provide the service must be stringent.

Suspension of staff’s licence and services should be done if any offences were made, he said.

“The riders should also wear a special jacket that could differentiate them from other motorcyclists. So, if they make a mistake, they can be spotted and others can report them,” he added.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke yesterday said all bike-hailing services will be subject to the same terms as e-hailing services.

He said bike-hailing service will be an important component as a model for first- and last-mile connectivity and it will be limited to the Klang Valley during the PoC.

But, Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Faculty of Engineering Road Safety Research Centre head Associate Prof Law Teik Hua said Malaysia is not ready for bike-hailing services.

He said 4,000 motorcyclists in the country have died in road accidents. “Whether it (the service) is suitable or not, that is another issue. If you look at the safety factor, we have 4,000 fatalities on the road and now the government let them provide the service I can see the number of motorcycles on the road to increase.

“We are finding ways to exclude motorcycles from roads because that means we can save 4,000 lives from roads accident. We shouldn’t implement any new policy to add more safety problems to the country,” he said.

Although the service is limited within the Klang Valley, Law said the area is still big.

“We have so many restrictions on Grab, how about bike-hailing? Are they going to implement the same regulations or would it be different?

“I believe the regulations shouldn’t be the same because one is a car and the other is a bike. In short, we are not ready,” he said.