Taxi Drivers Protest Against GrabCar 2

Taxi drivers held a follow-up protest against GrabCar at MyTeksi’s Petaling Jaya office yesterday. In the first protest on June 29, cabbies called for the suspension of app-based transport services like Uber and MyTeksi-owned GrabCar, which they say are taking away their livelihoods.

In a statement yesterday, MyTeksi said it was willing to discuss the matter with its pool of taxi drivers and regulators. “We strongly feel that this is the time for an open and progressive discussion with the authorities. Together with our drivers, we call upon the Transport Ministry and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to relook current laws and regulations,” said a MyTeksi representative.

The rep added that the company’s internal studies showed that a taxi driver can earn up to RM3,120 a month if signed up with MyTeksi. The cabbies have refuted the claim, saying that they would not have staged the protest if they were earning that sum, The Star reports.

Persatuan Pemandu Teksi Subang Jaya (PPTSJ) secretary Mathavan Subramaniam said the cabbies were left with no choice but to lodge police reports against GrabCar, which they claimed is illegal. “We will not resort to violence. We respect the law and will resort to all legal resources including taking the matter to court,” he said.

Persatuan Transformasi Pemandu Teksi Malaysia (PERS1M) vice-president Kamarudin Mohd Hussain said that MyTeksi had betrayed them by coming up with GrabCar. He also called on SPAD to protect the welfare of the taxi drivers, who claimed that their income had dropped by more than half since GrabCar was introduced. PPTSJ and PERS1M also spearheaded the earlier protest, which was recorded live here.

GrabCar fares are potentially lower than a standard taxi’s. An economy-type GrabCar charges an off-peak base fare of RM2.30 and RM0.97 per km, while the flag-down rate of a cab starts from RM3, with RM1.25 charged per km.

What’s SPAD saying? The commission stressed that the use of private vehicles to carry fare-paying passengers is an offence under the Land Public Transport Act 2010. It also cautioned that drivers of any vehicle who collect fares must have the Public Service Licence, while the vehicle itself must be licensed by SPAD with proper insurance coverage for the protection of fare-paying passengers.

An UberX driver told this writer that SPAD was clamping down on the service when I rode with him last week. Apparently, road blocks have been held, and he was cautious when picking me up, fearing that I might have been “accompanied” by enforcement officers. It doesn’t look like this cat and mouse game is about to end anytime soon. What’s your take on the issue?