KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — Local transport authorities are hunting down the owners of private vehicles who have been illegally carrying fare-paying passengers through popular ride-sharing company Uber, local daily New Straits Times reported today.
According to NST, at least 50 of these private cars that lack the necessary permits to pick up such passengers have been identified as using the Uber mobile app, with most of these alleged offenders spotted in the Klang Valley.
Uber offers Malaysians the options of using UberBlack ― where passengers are matched to taxis and limousines that Putrajaya deems legal, while the UberX category where private vehicles and “Hire & Drive” cars provide taxi-like services at far lower prices than regular taxis are considered illegal.
When commenting on the Uber mobile phone app that the company uses to match passengers to drivers, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi reportedly said that any ban would depend on local laws and local public transport regulators’ instructions.
“There is no grounds to ban the app because it is just a medium of communication and cannot be blamed for the whole affair,” he was quoted saying by NST.
Road Transport Department (RTD) director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad said taxi drivers should seek to improve their services to ensure that passengers opt to ride in their cars instead of cars under Uber.
According to NST, Ismail said the crackdown on private car drivers who flout local regulations and laws will be centred in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru, Ipoh and the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Ismail also said that UberX’s private car drivers are taking a “dangerous” move, saying that their passengers “will not have any insurance coverage in the event of an accident because they are not licenced”.
Uber was told by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) in August to stop offering taxi services using private and “Hire & Drive” vehicles — with the latter only meant for car rentals by tourists — and only use properly-licensed vehicles and drivers.
According to SPAD, Uber drivers who do not have a Public Service Vehicle driving licence and its use of private vehicles to carry fare-paying passengers are both illegal actions, with such actions in breach of the Road Transport Act 1987 and the Land Public Transport Act 2010 respectively.
Private car vehicle owners who give illegal taxi services risk a fine of between RM1,000 and RM10,000 or having their vehicles impounded or one year in jail, Ismail had previously said.
RTD and SPAD were scheduled to begin their crackdown yesterday, but Uber had on Tuesday told Malay Mail Online that it will still stand by its driver partners “and will continue to operate our uberBlack and uberX product in Malaysia” despite the clampdown.