KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Ride-sharing service Uber has been banned in Sabah for now after authorities there deemed it to be an app-based “pirate” cab service.
The Sabah Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) made the decision after deciding the service did not meet legal requirements.
“We want to treat everyone fairly including existing taxi drivers. And just like conventional unregistered taxi services, they are illegal,” state CVLB chairman Datuk Raime Unggi was quoted as saying in the Sunday Star.
Raime told the newspaper that although Uber had only been in Kota KInabalu for a month, local cabbies were already seeing a decline in business, making it all the more necessary to adequately regulate the service.
While he conceded that there was a need to improve public transportation services in the state, the CVLB banned the ride-sharing service for now after receiving complaints from the Kota Kinabalu Taxi Operators Association.
The taxi operators also asked for Uber’s app to be blocked entirely, but Raime noted that such changes could only come after the Land and Public Transport Commission (SPAD) completed their study on ride-sharing services in Malaysia.
On June 18, SPAD mooted the idea of legalising all ride-sharing services by issuing new individual taxi licences to drivers with clean track records to encourage entrepreneurial spirit at the individual level.
The Malaysian Taxi Drivers Transformation Association (PERS1M) was strongly against the idea, saying that the suggestion would badly affect their revenue.
Taxi drivers have fervently protested the operation of ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab in Malaysia and even organised a protest last year, all the while urging the government to ban such services.
While cabbies say that ride-sharing services were robbing them of their income, Uber and Grab drivers have reportedly said that customers prefer their service due to their reliability and low fares, something they claim was sorely lacking with taxis.