KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 ―The thousands of unresolved complaints against taxi drivers indicate that transport regulators are unlikely to enforce proposed licensing requirements for ride-sharing services, said the Malaysian Taxi Drivers Transformation Association (PERS1M).
PERS1M vice president Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain claimed the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has failed to act against over 18,000 taxi drivers with disciplinary issues in the Klang Valley alone.
Such lack of enforcement led him to doubt that the proposal to require drivers with Uber and GrabCar to obtain Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licences will be any different.
“If SPAD cannot act on this issue (taxi drivers disciplinary problems), how are they going to act on these Uber and GrabCar drivers should they not take the PSV licence?” he said.
“What if Uber and GrabCar refuse to follow to this? Will SPAD (Land Public Transport Commission) take any action on them? Because I doubt that would happen.”
All public transport vehicles must display SPAD’s hotline telephone and shortcode numbers that the may be used to lodge complaints, of which the regulator said it has received tens of thousands.
He also lambasted authorities for thinking that the proposed licensing requirement would allay taxi drivers’ anger with the two competing services, saying that they were ignoring over 33,000 applications for taxi permits.
The PERS1M VP said the welfare of existing and potential taxi drivers should be given priority before “the plight of the handful of kereta sapu drivers”.
Kamaruddin also criticised SPAD for releasing the results of an online survey that showed over 80 per cent of the public preferred Uber and GrabCar to regular taxis.
“SPAD should have gone down to meet the people and not conduct an online survey. How do u know if the respondents are not planted?” he said.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi last week said his ministry was considering to make it mandatory for Uber and GrabCar drivers to obtain Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licences.
He also said in January that ride-sharing services would soon be required to purchase the same commercial insurance as regular taxis, but that this would only be implemented later in the year once SPAD obtains public feedback.
The measures were in response to increasingly vociferous demands by taxi drivers for the government to ban or regulate the ride-sharing services.
Taxi drivers and firms claim 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 unhappiness has manifested in several forms, some legal and some less so.
Taxi drivers have held at least two protests on major roads in Kuala Lumpur that caused massive congestion to other road users, resulting in several arrests and a reprimand from the prime minister.
A group representing taxi drivers has also taken legal action against SPAD to compel it to ban the ride-sharing services and bar the regulator from legalising these. Taxi drivers have planned a massive gathering at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex today for the hearing of the case.