Taxi drivers have called on the government to develop its own ride-hailing service that can be used across the nation, saying that such a move would ensure a fair distribution of wealth and growth of the industry. The call was made by Penyatuan Pemain Industri Pengangkutan Darat Malaysia (PPDM), representing the interests of taxi drivers, Malaysiakini reports.

In a memorandum that was delivered to the prime minister’s office, the organisation – made up of association leaders, operators and drivers involved in the country’s land transport industry – demanded that the government develop its own e-hailing application for the use of all parties as a replacement for applications owned by private companies.

“(The companies) have clearly robbed the industry of billions of ringgit and damaged the country’s taxi industry ecosystem, as well as created disharmony among taxi and e-hailing drivers,” it said.

According to the PPDM, the billions of ringgit accumulated by a government-run ride-hailing service could be used to upgrade the quality of taxi services and would also be able to provide insurance coverage schemes to taxi drivers and vehicles.

It added that the gains could also be used to provide scholarships for the children of taxi drivers and provide compensation of RM100,000 to their heirs. “In short, money from the industry will be returned to the industry and not allowed to be robbed out of the country, which has been the case all along,” the memorandum said.

Cabbies are also calling on the government to remove the double standards existing in taxi and ride-hailing services, applying consistent fare rates and regulations between both industries. “This is because both services carry out the same activities, which is to take passengers from one destination to another by charging a certain rate,” the PPDM said in its memorandum. It asked the government to recognise both industries under the commercial category.

The organisation claimed that it had sent many letters to the transport ministry and its minister, pleading for a solution to their problems, but none of these issues had been addressed. “As a result of that action, we as workers of the industry have had to go through a difficult and painful life. On that realisation, we think it is time for us to make changes, we will work with any component party that is willing to comply with our demands,” it said.

It’s not the first time that cabbies have demanded that the government intervene and take action against ride-hailing services. In the past, various taxi groups have asked authorities to ban services using private cars, saying that the presence of these had affected their livelihoods.