Taxi Drivers Protest Against GrabCar 1

The ‘war’ between taxi drivers and private drivers under the Uber and GrabCar apps is escalating, with the cabbies now taking matters into their own hands. The Star reports that taxi drivers are now arresting Uber and GrabCar drivers picking up and dropping off riders in the KLCC area.

“We have started doing operations actively and caught more than seven Uber and GrabCars and we surrender them to the police for further action,” Big Blue Taxi Service boss Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail told the English language daily. He later clarified in a press conference that of the seven drivers caught, three have been handed over to the police.

Taxi drivers have taken the issue to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) but Shamsubahrin said that SPAD was not effective in stopping Uber and GrabCar, forcing cabbies to take matters into their own hands. “Uber, GrabCar, they’re not afraid of SPAD. Taxi drivers have lost respect for SPAD,” he said.

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The ‘operations’ started two days ago and is being carried out by around 100 KLCC taxi drivers. This is clearly a more serious attempt than the ‘trial run’ that happened during last week’s protest at SPAD’s HQ, where one GrabCar driver was trapped.

It was reported yesterday that an all-out ban on Uber and GrabCar services is not yet certain, and SPAD acknowledges the public’s support for app-based ride hailing.

“We understand the solutions provided by Uber and GrabCar, and the sentiments of the people towards it,” said SPAD CEO, Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah. He said that while ride-sharing services “did not fit into the commission’s legal framework”, the commission is looking for ways to pinpoint a solution “towards this new technology”.

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Azharuddin revealed that a new legislation to amend public transport laws to incorporate ride-sharing services is being discussed between SPAD and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The taxi drivers have made themselves heard loud and clear, but what do the Uber and GrabCar drivers think?

“Majority of my passengers are saying they won’t take the taxi because of bad experience. We’re just earning a living,” a 32-year old driver known as Johnny told The Star. “It’s not like we want to take away their business. If taxis did their work, then we wouldn’t have to be driving,” another driver said.

“We remain optimistic that authorities including SPAD will give us the opportunity to work together to improve urban mobility for millions of Malaysian commuters,” Uber’s Malaysia GM Leon Foong said.

It’s the same tone from GrabTaxi, which operates both MyTeksi and GrabCar. The company’s public affairs VP Nina Teng said GrabTaxi would continue to support SPAD in building a stronger transport regulatory framework here. “As an industry, it’s important to understand that customers want various transport options, and it is the reason why GrabCar exists,” she said.

Are you a rider of Uber and/or GrabCar? What’s your take on the increasingly hot issue?