Uber services legal but told by SPAD to get correct permits

Regional General Manager of Uber Technologies in Southeast Asia Michael Brown poses in front of the newly launched UberX range, on August 6, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Regional General Manager of Uber Technologies in Southeast Asia Michael Brown poses in front of the newly launched UberX range, on August 6, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Popular transportation booking service “Uber” has not been declared illegal by local authorities, contrary to several news reports, and can continue operations provided its vehicles and drivers are appropriately licensed.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has, however, warned the firm to stop its use of private and “Hire & Drive” vehicles for its services.

“SPAD is… taking a more pragmatic approach and is open to allowing this service, as long as the services are provided by appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers,” SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said in a statement yesterday.

“SPAD would also like to take this opportunity to urge the taxi industry to use these current developments as an opportunity to enhance the level of service provided and improve the reputation of the domestic taxi industry, in order to further gain public confidence,” he added.

According to the statement, Uber has been using both private and “Hire & Drive” vehicles, apart from those registered for limousine services.

But, Syed Hamid explained that the usage of private vehicles to ferry fare-paying passengers is deemed an offence under the Land Public Transport Act 2010.

“This illegal service provided could be colloquially referred to as ‘kereta sapu’,” he said.

Vehicles registered as “Hire & Drive” vehicles by SPAD, on the other hand, are not allowed to be used for taxi or limousine services, he added.

SPAD, said Syed Hamid, has also found that some of Uber’s drivers are not in possession of a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving license, which is in violation of the Road Transport Act 1987.

The SPAD chief pointed out that there are 839 licensed limousines nationwide, which are eligible to offer chauffeur-driven services.

As such, he said, the supply of vehicles and drivers should not be an issue for Uber.

“As the regulator in charge of Malaysia’s land public transport, SPAD takes compliance to the law, local rules and regulations very seriously,” he said.

“And while the public may be satisfied with Uber’s services now, without rules and regulations, there is no guarantee that the public is protected in the long run. SPAD thus urges UBER to use only appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers,” he added.

Syed Hamid also warned that action will be taken against any transportation providers that fail to comply with the Land Public Transport Act 2010.

Responding to the report, Uber’s regional general manager Mike Brown said Uber’s technology connects riders to the “most affordable, safe and reliable ride, and with unprecedented accountability and transparency built into the system”, offering an alternative to the conventional transportation system.

“Safety is Uber’s #1 priority. All Uber partners and their vehicles undergo a rigorous background check and thorough inspection, so when you ride with Uber, you know that you’re riding with a safe and highly qualified driver with full insurance coverage.

“In a nutshell, Uber provides a high quality, safe, reliable and affordable transportation option that also benefits riders, driver partners and the city. It’s a win-win option for everyone,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail Online.

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