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Regulating Grab in the interest of consumers

  • This is not the first time such “soft landing” approach has been adopted by the government. Prior to this, we have seen six-month grace period for smoking ban.

Sin Chew Daily

Transport minister Anthony Loke announced last Friday that Grab drivers without public service vehicle (PSV) licence can still provide their services over the next three months.

He said the cabinet had decided to give these drivers ample time to adapt to the new ruling and apply for the licence.

During the “soft landing” period, Grab drivers without PSV will only be given verbal warnings and not traffic offence tickets. JPJ's enforcement will focus more on education during this period of time.

The minister has stressed that the three-month “soft landing” approach extended to Grab drivers is not a policy reversal, as the government understands that many Grab drivers are still in the process of obtaining their PSV licences and that the government does not want the consumers to be affected.

Obviously the government's effort to legalise and professionalise Grab service has not met the desired goal. The enforcement authorities should not take all the blame, as the “last minute” mentality of some Grab drivers has significantly bogged down the whole process.

Transport ministry announced last December that 12 July would be the final deadline for Grab drivers to apply for PSV licence. Back then it promised the operators that there would be no compromise or U-turn.

Nevertheless, the three-month “soft landing” decision today has infuriated many taxi drivers who have claimed that their livelihood has been adversely affected by the Grab service.

Big Blue Taxi founder Shamsubaharin Ismail has warned that if the authorities do not take any action against unlicensed Grab drivers, they will camp out at the transport ministry's office in protest.

This is not the first time such “soft landing” approach has been adopted by the government. Prior to this, we have seen six-month grace period for smoking ban.

As a matter of fact, even if traditional taxi drivers stage a protest, there is no way they can stop Grab service from entering the market and competing with them. They should instead try to adapt and improve to stay afloat.

Many industries and trades across the world have found themselves inevitably facing severe challenges and impact with the advent of the New Economy. Traditional taxi drivers, who to some extent have been enjoying government protection, should view this as an opportunity and not a crisis, to compete with Grab drivers in service quality and efficiency, and fight for more reasonable tariffs by offering improved service and enhanced customer experience.

In regulating and issuing PSV and EVP (E-Hailing Vehicle Permit), the transport ministry must act more strictly and efficiently and completely weed out instances of “duit kopi”.

In addition, the authorities must also consistently monitor the fairness of Grab's commission system as well as the authenticity of drivers' particulars and vehicle safety, among other things.

This is to create a more comprehensive emerging public transportation model and ecosystem for the greatest benefits of the operators, drivers and consumers alike.

 

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