Protest puts brakes on Uber tie-up with 500 taxi drivers


PETALING JAYA: The proposed tie-up between 500 taxi drivers and Uber, supposed to be signed today, has been postponed.

They were apparently dissuaded from going ahead by the protest of a group of disgruntled taxi drivers earlier today.

Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail, who yesterday announced that the Coalition of Taxi Companies and Associations (Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia)would sign an MoU with the ride-hailing service, today said the coalition had changed its mind

He went on to wonder why the coalition, particularly its chairman Salahuddin Ayubi Kamal Aazad, had been intimidated by the protesters made up of “irresponsible taxi drivers”.

“The coalition’s decision to put off the MoU shows they are no gentlemen and are not upfront about looking after the welfare of taxi drivers,” Shamsubahrin told FMT.

More than 100 taxi drivers turned up outside the Sunway Lagoon Club this morning to protest the MoU between the coalition and the international ride-sharing company, claiming they did not want to cooperate with a “Jewish company”.

They also accused the coalition of “selling out” the taxi drivers.

Yesterday, Shamsubahrin revealed that the MoU would enable some 500 taxi drivers to leverage on the Uber app and increase their income and coverage.

The deal, he added, would allow Uber and the taxi industry to coexist in Malaysia while allowing the taxi drivers to benefit from Uber’s wide reach.

Shamsubahrin’s support for the tie-up between Uber and the coalition was somewhat surprising as he had previously been at the forefront of protests against Uber and Grab.

At one point, he had even threatened to take legal action against the ride-sharing services.

In May last year, Shamsubahrin even launched a taxi-hailing app, said to have been developed at a cost of RM700,000, to help taxi drivers boost their income after they purportedly suffered significant losses due to competition from Uber and Grab.