KUCHING: Uber Everywhere (Malaysia) has confirmed that it’s in operations in Sarawak from Wednesday 14 September, according to a statement carried by the Borneo Post and other local print and online media.
The company’s general manager, Kenny Choong, added in the statement that “current regulations do not cover what Uber was about”.
“That’s the kind of conversation we need to bring the city forward to protect riders, drivers and businesses,” he said in clarifying that the company was not offering taxi services. “We are still in talks with the authorities concerned. We cannot confirm the eventual outcome.”
Uber was essentially a technology platform that connects supply with demand, he explained. Globally, it was a transportation network company with a technology platform that connects independent operators with riders.
In Sarawak, he stressed the exact number of Uber drivers could not be immediately confirmed but there was sufficient interest considering the number of sign-ups.
Kuching Division Bumiputera Taxi association Chairman Sapawi Mohd Suut was quoted as saying in the local media that the state Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP) has assured them that it will not issue any licence to Uber to operate in Sarawak.
There are three other taxi associations in Kuching alone , Sarawak Taxi Owners Association, Kuching First Division Taxi Association and Bumi Kenyalang Taxi Association.
They represent about 1,000 taxi drivers.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri, in briefing reporters at her residence in Kuching on Sunday, warned that Uber would be operating illegally in Sarawak if it does not have a permit from LPKP.
“Until Sunday, Uber did not submit any permit application,” she said. “Uber is still not legal until it registers with LPKP Sarawak.”
“We need to record their activities. We have to be responsible for their passengers.”
Uber must apply for a taxi permit, under Section 51 of the LPKP Act, to provide taxi services, she stressed.
She reiterated that action can be taken against Uber if it was not registered in Sarawak. “Under Section 51 of the LPKP Act, errant vehicles can be seized in cooperation with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the police.”
Illegal Uber and similar operators, she added, could be picked up by the authorities concerned under Section 56 of the Road Transport Act 1987 for not having a licence to offer taxi services.
Even if Uber registered with LPKP Sarawak, cautioned Nancy, it does not mean that it would be recognized straightaway. “It still has to comply with certain conditions. It does not matter how Uber labels its vehicles.”