• 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)

  • Feedback and Clarification on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

    CEO of SPAD
    Encik Mohd Azharuddin bin Mat Sah
    Block D, Platinum Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2,
    Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

    Yang Berusaha Encik Mohd Azharuddin,

    RE: Feedback and Clarification on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

    Based on Section 84 of the Land Transport Act 2010, SPAD began the 3-month process of public consultation and seeking public feedback on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) on the 8th of March 2017.[1] As a Member of Parliament and a concerned citizen, I hope that SPAD can provide clarification and information on the following points raised below.

    1. Provide detailed breakdown of the cost of the ECRL

    In a report by the Edge in November 2016, Transport Minister Dato Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the following to explain the increase in the estimated cost of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) from RM29 billion to RM55 billion. “Previously, the length [of the rail link] was 545km; now it is 600km and this does not include the part from Gombak to Port Klang”[2] But on the 13th of May, 2017, during the signing ceremony of Phase Two of the ECRL project, which covers the track from the Integrated Transport Terminal (ITT) Gombak to Port Klang, the Treasury Secretary General, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar was reported to have said that the construction costs for this section for this section of the ECRL was RM9 billion, which, combined with the RM46 billion cost for Phase One for Wakaf Bahru in Kelantan to ITT Gombak in Selangor, would bring the total cost of the ECRL to RM55 billion.[3] This contradicts what was said by Liow Tiong Lai. In the interest of transparency, the government should publish a detailed breakdown of the estimated cost of the entire ECRL including the cost of the 7 segments of the ECRL and the 6 Spur Lines:

    The government should also provide an estimated breakdown of the land acquisition costs which will involve the government buying 8699 lots of private land covering 8376.88 acres or 3390 hectares.

    2. Clarify if the cost of the project only involves a SINGLE TRACK railway line as it is described in the EIA report

    In the Executive Summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the ECRL, it is stated that ‘the ECRL will be an electrified single track railway line built on a double track formation, approximately 532.3km for the main line with another 65.9km of spur lines.”  Does this mean that only a single track will be built for the ECRL even though a railway base that is wide enough for two tracks will be built? If this is the case, then the government needs to explain why a project which costs an estimated RM55 billion will only pay for ONE TRACK.

    I would like to point that the promotional video and materials shown in the public display, on the MRL website and in the youtube videos all indicate that the ECRL has two tracks, not one.

    3. Clarify the total length of bridges and viaducts for the ECRL

    In a statement on the 9th of November, 2016 by Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Datuk Rahman Dahlan, he said that the ECRL will involve building 110km of bridges.[4] Based on the SPAD public display drawings, a section by section calculation showed 69 bridges with a combined length of 17.7km and 33 viaducts with a combined length of 74.6km. Therefore, the total length of bridges and viaducts (assuming that viaducts are also bridges) is 92.3km. There is a difference of 17.7km between Rahman Dahlan’s statement and our calculations based on the SPAD public display drawings. A difference of 17.7km can translate into billions of ringgit of construction costs. This needs to be clarified by the government.

    4. Explain the rush to sign the agreement for Phase 2 of the ECRL connecting ITT Gombak with Port Klang

    My colleague, ADUN for Damansara Utama, Yeo Bee Yin, had earlier raised the issue of the missing link from ITT Gombak to Klang in the current EIA report available for public display.[5] SPAD responded by saying that there was no missing link and that the link from ITT Gombak to Klang is part of Phase 2 of the ECRL project. SPAD also said that “when the due processes are completed and the extension is ready for execution, SPAD will hold a public display of the conditionally approved railway scheme for this alignment prior to execution”[6] If the due processes have not been completed, why did the government sign a supplementary agreement with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) during Najib’s visit to Beijing recently for Phase 2 of the ECRL Project?[7]

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament, Serdang

    [1] http://www.spad.gov.my/media-centre/media-releases/2017/public-inspection-railway-scheme-east-coast-rail-link-ecrl-opens
    [2] http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/liow-explains-big-jump-ecrl-cost
    [3] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/238867/najib-witnesses-signing-ecrl-phase-two-construction-agreement
    [4] https://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/11/187009/statement-ecrl-project-not-hastily-decided-proposed-2007
    [5] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/379638
    [6] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/379772
    [7] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/238867/najib-witnesses-signing-ecrl-phase-two-construction-agreement