Drivers for ride hailing or e-hailing services such as Grab will have to comply with a raft of new rules set by the government to ensure a level playing field between the e-hailing and conventional taxi industries. The new regulations were announced by transport minister Anthony Loke yesterday, reported by The Sun.

The new requirements include the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license, which costs RM115 a year, and annual vehicle inspections at Puspakom. However, all stakeholders will be given a one-year moratorium from the gazetting of the procedures today, before full implementation starts next year.

“E-hailing services will be regulated by the government beginning July 12 through the Land Public Transport (Amendment) Act 2017 and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (Amendment) Act 2017. With this, e-hailing companies must register themselves with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and will be required to pay a fee,” Loke told the press.

He added that e-hailing drivers must attend a RM200, six-hour course at designated driving institutions to obtain their PSV license, and that they would also have to pass criminal record and medical checks. To make things fair, taxis will also have to go for annual inspections (twice a year currently), and the same RM200 six-hour course for a driver’s card will also apply.

Also, e-hailing cars need to have a minimum three-star ASEAN NCAP rating (most local cars are four stars and above), and cars over three years old must be inspected at Puspakom for a RM55 fee.

Other new regulations include the requirement for passengers to upload their IC (for driver security) and insurance for the car, drivers, passengers and third parties. E-hailing companies are required to prepare a driver’s guideline and register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia and Cooperative Commission of Malaysia. An SOS/999 emergency function in the app is also a must.

The government is also now regulating commissions (the amount kept by the e-hailing companies) and fares (charged to the consumer). Loke announced a maximum commission of 20%, or maximum 10% for taxis using e-hailing apps. Apparently, commissions can go up to 25% at present. For riders, surcharges cannot be higher than two times the original fare.

Loke said that Grab will be investigated for possible monopoly, after buying out Uber’s business in the region. “The government is currently reviewing a possible e-hailing service monopoly and we are working together with the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC). We don’t want any services to be involved in monopoly. And if we find any elements of it, we will take action on them,” he said, adding that SPAD has received complaints on raised fares after the merger.

Sounds like the government is coming down quite hard on Grab and its imitators, with the investigation and new regulations. Asked for a response, Loke stood firm. “Of course they won’t be happy, but we come up with the regulations and they have to abide by it. If they think it’s not profitable, then they can leave the industry,” he said. Yes sir!