• SPAD should ensure a level-playing field between taxi and ehailing drivers and provide these drivers with proper protections and safeguards

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang and Liew Chin Tong, MP for Kluang on the 6th of July, 2017

    SPAD should ensure a level-playing field between taxi and ehailing drivers and provide these drivers with proper protections and safeguards

    With an estimated 37,000 taxi drivers and an estimated 60,000 Uber and Grab drivers in the Klang Valley, this form of public transportation not only provides a crucial service to consumers but also an important source of employment for the drivers themselves. As more and more Malaysians are joining the ranks of e-hailing drivers (GRAB and UBER), either on a part time or on a full-time basis, it is crucial for the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to ensure that there is a level playing field between the regular taxi drivers and the e-hailing drivers and also to ensure that the taxi and e-hailing drivers themselves are given proper protections and safeguards.

    In a web-based survey conducted in BM and in Chinese by the DAP Research team where we obtained close to 300 replies, we found that 40% of UBER and GRAB drivers are driving their vehicles on a full-time basis and another 53% are driving on a part time basis not as a hobby but as a job. In other words, most UBER and GRAB drivers surveyed depend greatly on their income as drivers. A significant proportion of the drivers surveyed – 64% – have at least a diploma which indicates that many with tertiary qualifications look at e-hailing as a viable form of employment. Furthermore, our survey found that 34% or about one-third of e-hailing drivers are based outside the Klang Valley. This number is likely to grow as UBER and GRAB expand to the cities and smaller towns outside KL and Selangor.

    The average monthly wages for full time drivers were estimated to be approximately RM3200. While this may seem like a decent amount of earnings, it does not take into account the maintenance cost of the vehicles which can average more than RM1000 a month. While e-hailing companies provides personal accident insurance for drivers and passengers, the car insurance and repairs cost are totally borne by the drivers themselves.

    75% of the drivers surveyed feel that the 20-25% commission rate charged by UBER / GRAB are unfair and more than 60% of drivers want the government to regulate the amount of commission which the e-hailing companies can charge. In addition, some drivers also feel that they have no avenues of appeal if they are suspended or banned by UBER / GRAB because of unreasonable complaints by customers. The cases of unfair suspensions will become more serious as the number of full time UBER / GRAB drivers increases, including those who have bought new vehicles for the purpose of becoming full time e-hailing drivers.

    While the proposed amendments to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act 1987 are a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done including:

    (i)               Increasing the awareness of e-hailing drivers on the details of the amendments

    (ii)              Ensuring that the e-hailing market does not become a monopoly / oligopoly to the detriment of drivers and passengers

    (iii)            Regulating the commission rates which e-hailing companies can charge the drivers

    (iv)            Setting up a Tribunal to hear the appeals of e-hailing drivers who feel they have been unfairly banned / suspended by the e-hailing companies

    (v)              Ensuring that there is a level playing field between the taxi drivers and e-hailing drivers in terms of fares and wages.

    The end goal should be a market whereby taxi drivers as well as e-hailing drivers are properly compensated and the taxi companies and e-hailing companies cannot abuse their oligopolistic / monopolistic positions to mistreat the drivers and give passengers a bad service experience.

    Document: Self-Employed E-Hailing Services Drivers (SEEDs) Survey Findings (5 July 2017)

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