KUALA LUMPUR: Just two days before new regulations are set to kick in for Malaysia's e-hailing industry, drivers have expressed frustration, with some contemplating whether to call it a day.
Grab driver Chevlyn Ong told CNA although regulations were necessary for safety and security purposes, the authorities should not be coming up with new rules as they please.
“At first, they wanted to regulate the PSV (Public Service Vehicles) licence in April. Though a lot of the drivers complained, they complied and did everything necessary.
“Then they announced that cars above three years needed to go through checks with Puspakom (Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre). (Again), a lot of them complied ... The problem is, the new rules keep coming,” she said.
Mdm Ong, who is a member of the Grabcar driver representative committee, added that most e-hailing drivers are now experiencing “phobia” as they are apprehensive about what the authorities may enforce next.
She foresees the number of e-hailing drivers to reduce significantly over time. "With all these regulations, they are making us like taxi services, no more e-hailing."
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A former driver with Riding Pink, who only wanted to be known as Sam, concurred. She recounted how she quit the e-hailing industry because she could not tolerate the changing regulations.
“It was just one after another. If they keep doing this, eventually everyone is going to have to go back to taxi services because there will be no more e-hailing drivers."
Mr Pakianathan, who has been in the e-hailing business for over two years, also said that he is seriously thinking about quitting.
“The only reason I’m thinking twice is because I have done so many things like the PSV licence and Puspakom inspections to continue driving,” said the part-timer with Grab.
He said every time the government introduced a new regulation, part-time drivers like him would need to take time off their day jobs to do the necessary paperwork.
“Even for full-time drivers, it will mess with their income, because they are spending their time at all these offices instead of driving people around,” he said.
The initial deadline for all e-hailing drivers to obtain a PSV license, passenger insurance, e-hailing sticker and e-hailing vehicle permit (EVP) was Jul 12, but the government later granted an extension until Saturday (Oct 12).
Last week, the Road Transport Department (RTD) and the Land Public Transport Department added that all e-hailing drivers are required to have a physical EVP.
They were also required to convert their vehicle category from individual private vehicles to e-hailing private vehicles (AH). The new rules will be enforced on Saturday.
Following the announcement, there was an outcry from e-hailing drivers and operators who said it was too short a notice to expect drivers nationwide to go to the RTD and change their vehicle category.
In response, Transport Minister Anthony Loke on Wednesday announced that drivers do not need to go and manually convert their vehicle category. He said this is because all vehicles previously registered for e-hailing will be automatically converted by the system.
“We understand the challenges that come with these regulations and we will simplify whatever that can be simplified,” he said in a press conference, adding that drivers will also not need to carry a physical copy of the EVP.
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In a statement on Wednesday, Grab Malaysia said although it welcomes efforts by the authorities to ease the process for the drivers, consumers would “still feel the pinch”.
Less than half of its driver-partners have successfully obtained their PSV licence, said the industry leader.
“With the enforcement, there will be fewer driver-partners on the road to serve the ever-increasing demand for ride-hailing resulting in consumers feeling the pinch of longer waiting time,” said the statement.
"Each day, our active driver-partners in full force serve 1 million ride bookings. On average, a passenger can get his or her ride within six minutes. Unfortunately, this may change post-Oct 12."
Grab urged consumers to book their rides earlier than usual and to ride during off-peak hours to avoid long waiting times.
For now, e-hailing drivers are relieved by the minister's announcements. This being said, Mdm Ong shared that many are concerned over whether there would be problems reselling cars under the AH category.
“Many are concerned if the value of their vehicles would depreciate more after they have been categorised as e-hailing vehicles. Though it may not have any direct impact at the moment, we would not know what issues will come up in the future,” she said.