Grab drivers see new e-hailing regulations as ‘burdensome’

MIRI: The scheduled enforcement of a set of e-hailing regulations outlined by the Ministry of Transport does not sit well with many Grab drivers here.

They regard the regulations, set to take effect this July 12, as making the e-hailing drivers the same as any ordinary taxi driver.

Grab has announced that it is complying with the e-hailing regulations, which make it compulsory for an applicant to sit for online training and written examination, undergo medical check-ups, as well as obtain e-hailing insurance before receiving the permit to become a Grab driver.

Last November, Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that all e-hailing drivers must register for the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence, similar to that of a taxi driver.

He said after the July 12 deadline, his ministry would enforce the new regulations as by then, all e-hailing drivers must already have their own PSV registration and licence, insurance and also vehicles of which those that were three years old and older would be required to undergo inspection.

In this regard, local part-time Grab driver Allan Wong saw the requirements as being ‘the exact opposite’ of Grab’s primary reason of existence.

“E-hailing service means creating a convenient opportunity for those wanting to look for a part-time job by becoming Grab drivers. At the same time, customers get to have a cheaper option (than taxis).

“It’s exactly the main reason why I became a part-time driver – to make money outside my day-job to make a better living for my family.

“However, the implementation of the new system means that we are no different from any taxi driver. Not only do we have to fork up a huge sum of money to sit for training and examination, but other procedures such as medical check-ups and Puspakom inspection are already creating a financial burden for the applicants. I think that (due to the new regulations) the (e-hailing) rates would not be as cheap as before, because if they were to maintain the same price, it would not be possible to cover the costs.”

Moreover, Wong opined that the implementation would only benefit e-hailing drivers in larger cities such as Kuala Lumpur, as they would definitely see returns in the long-run.

“For places like Miri or Sibu, the chances are so slim. During the early days following Grab’s entry into Sarawak, some of the pioneers had seen profits then, but as the popularity rises, so does competitiveness.”

Wong said after assessing the pros and the cons, he decided to quit driving Grab after the implementation of the new regulations next month.

“In fact, a lot of Grab drivers whom I know, especially the part-timers, are making similar decisions. The initial purpose of Grab (seems to have) changed and we have no choice but to stop altogether.”

Meanwhile, Nick Sia said he was still considering whether or not to take the PSV licensing, in view of the procedures requiring a lot of money.

“I became full-time Grab driver one-and-half years ago with the hope that it would supplement (the money from) my freelance photography work. I was confident that working as a Grab driver and also as a freelance photographer, I could bring home enough money and at the same time, spend more time with my family.

“However, reality is bitter – it didn’t turn out as what I had expected. The money’s not enough, even with me driving many rounds. I have stopped for a while now, and am hoping to venture into something else,” he said.

Sia noticed that there were other drivers who quit driving Grab much earlier than him, perhaps due to similar problems too.

“Now that we have to fork out extra money for the (PSV) permit, I doubt that I would continue. But for the time being, I am waiting before (making) any further decision,” he said.

It is said that Grab has personally contacted its drivers – both full and part-timers, informed them about the new regulations and urged them to apply for the PSV registration and licensing before July 11 this year.

It is stated that the online training and medical check-up are free up to this July 11, but the written examination would cost RM200.

In this respect, Grab has rolled out the first phase of its ‘Pikul Bersama’ package for all its drivers, whereby it would reimburse them the costs of completing their medical check-ups and Puspakom vehicle inspections up to a total RM90 – however, this package is only available up till this July 11.

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