The Transport Ministry confirmed that it has never issued any permit or licence to any firm offering “motorcycle taxi” services to the public, Bernama reports.

Referring to Dego Ride, which currently offers a paid “taxi-motor” service, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi said the service was deemed illegal under the Road Transport Act 1987.

“So far, no licences have been issued for motorcycle taxi riders, if they conduct such a business, it is illegal,” he said, and added that riders who provide such services could be charged for misusing their personal motor vehicle licences for commercial purposes.

Dego Ride operates in a similar fashion to the ojek service in Indonesia and motoesai rap chang in Thailand, providing a quicker alternative to get around the traffic woes in the city.

Users can hail the taxi-motor service via a smartphone application, with base fares starting from as low as RM2.50 for the first 3 km, and RM0.60 for every subsequent kilometre. The service was first introduced in November last year.

On a separate matter, Ab Aziz said the government would only allow Uber and Grab services to operate using smartphone applications, with laws to regulate the ride-hailing services set to be tabled in Parliament on March 6.

He was commenting on taxi touts that abused Uber and Grab platforms at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). “Uber and GrabCar use virtual applications, they (regular drivers) cannot be ulat (touts) because they need to be registered (on the respective platforms),” he said.

“At the KLIA terminal, we already have enforcement by JPJ (Road Transport Department) and SPAD (Land Public Transport Commission) in collaboration with MAB (Malaysia Airports Berhad) as the administrator there,” he added.