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Taxi drivers are claiming that the continued existence of ridesharing services like Uber and GrabCar in Malaysia have affected their income. They also claim that the services encourage the rise in the number of illegal taxi operators in the country as well.

Speaking to Bernama, Klang Valley Taxi Drivers Action Committee chairman Zailani Isausuludin said that those who provided these ridesharing services operated without the proper permits or licence to do so, thus making them illegal.

He claimed that even university students, who only possessed a ‘P’ licence, ferried passengers as a source of side income using the Uber and GrabCar apps. Licensed taxi drivers are required to possess a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving licence and a taxi permit for their vehicles.

Zailani urged the authorities to do more in tackling these ridesharing services which he says are clearly not in accordance with Malaysian public transport standards. Failure to do so could see licensed taxi drivers cross over to become “illegal taxi drivers” in order to cope with the high cost of operating a taxi.

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He claims that taxi drivers had to fork out over RM30,000 a year in order to renew their driver’s licence, going for annual medical check-up, paying the taxi rental fees, renewing taxi permits and maintaining their vehicles. They are also required to send their vehicles for Puspakom inspections twice a year to verify that their vehicles are road-worthy and safe.

As most taxi drivers source their vehicles from companies who hold taxi permits, they have to pay a deposit of over RM6,000 in order to secure a taxi for use. In addition, they are also required to pay a daily rental fee of between RM57 to RM65 daily.

“If taxi drivers are unable to work due to illness, the rental payments still have to be made. If no payment is made within 14 days, the taxis will be seized by the company and the deposit, forfeited,” said Zailani.

With that in mind, Zailani urged government agencies including the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), Road Transport Department (JPJ), Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to act decisively against these ridesharing services.

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It also wants the MCMC to ban the mobile apps which offer such services (Uber, GrabCar, etc.). Currently, these apps are deemed service matching providers, and therefore legal by the MCMC. Recently, a report claims that SPAD is in the midst of introducing amendments to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 that could allow them to take direct action against these mobile app providers.

Federal Territory and Selangor Taxi Operators Association president Datuk Aslah Abdullah, also shared his thoughts on illegal taxi, saying that the issue needs to be settled quickly as public safety is of a concern.

“Illegal taxi services should be stopped as it does not ensure safety of passengers in the event of accidents, even more if it involves fatalities. A licensed taxi driver will ensure that legal aspects of the safety of passengers is at an optimum level. How can we guarantee passenger safety if this service without permit undergoes Puspakom inspection and verification,” he said.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the authorities do something to alleviate the financial burden placed on taxi drivers? Do ridesharing services like Uber and GrabCar have a place in Malaysia? Let us know in the comments section below.