KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Taxi drivers may resort to crime if they lose their jobs in the face of stiff competition from ride sharing services like Uber and Grabcar, a Malay consumer group said today.
Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) president Datuk Nadzim Johan accused the Land and Public Transport Commission (Spad) of failing to provide an immediate solution to the fray between taxi operators and ride sharing services, claiming that the latter has resulted in income loss for taxi drivers by as much as 60 per cent.
“We are afraid that as more and more taxi drivers lose their job, they would be forced to resort to crime like robbery to survive.
“If the authorities do not act immediately, then the chances of that happening is very high,” Nadzim told a press conference here.
Nadzim noted that Spad had promised to resolve the issue after taxi drivers protested against the emergence of Uber and Grabcar, but nothing concrete has materialised after almost a year.
He said PPIM was not picking sides but wanted a “fair” resolution to the issue, but he also called the ride-sharing services an indicator of the potential negative impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could have on Malaysian businesses.
“This is like a manifestation of the TPP. Imagine if anyone can just come in and compete. What if companies like Greyhound comes in and start competing, what would happen to local businesses?” he said, referring to the popular American bus service company.
Asked to clarify if this meant PPIM supported the call for Uber and Grabcar to be banned, Nadzim sidestepped by calling for regulatory measures without describing what this might entail.
“The government regulate… and come up with some solution to ensure the welfare of the taxi drivers are taken care of.
“I know its competition, and that in competition, the strong win. But we cannot let that be the rule and just neglect the weak,” he said.
Taxi services drew public backlash last week after some 100 drivers parked their cars on Jalan Bukit Bintang during office hours, forcing traffic to come to a standstill for at least two hours in a show of protest against ride-sharing services Uber and Grabcar.
While government leaders, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said they acknowledged the problems facing cab drivers over the emergence of Uber and Grabcar, they added that taxi operators must embrace competition and use it as impetus to improve their services.
Najib also said that his government was not biased towards either group, and said the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is now looking into ways to solve the issue with a “just and fair” solution to expected to be announced soon.
Taxi drivers and firms have complained that Uber and GrabCar are competing unfairly as they do not face the same legal requirements as the former groups. They have also accused SPAD of failing to act against the two services that they insist are illegal.
The acrimony has resulted in sometimes violent altercations involving irate taxi drivers and those from the two ride-sharing services.