GEORGE TOWN: The recent discovery of a Grab driver in his car, strangled and in an upside-down position, highlights the very real risks faced by e-hailing drivers in the country as they go about their business.
The victim, Aiman Nosri, 27, of Nilai, Seremban, was found at about 8.20pm last Sunday in a bizarre inverted position, with his head on the floor and his legs upright, in the back seat of his Perodua Myvi at a car park in Taman Selayang Makmur, in the capital.
But Grab driver Johnny Lee who lost his full-time job as a copywriter last year says despite the risks, driving helps him pay the bills.
“I have been looking around for a job, but with very little success.
“For the time being, doing Grab is what helps me pay my monthly car instalments, fund my trips to Singapore and my lepak sessions with friends – until something comes along which will turn this gig from full-time to part-time,” he told FMT.
The 27-year-old who is based in Kuala Lumpur said on days when he has nothing else scheduled, he will drive for at least eight hours or until his credit goes below RM10 after 8pm.
He said on a daily basis, he makes between RM100 and RM200. He earns RM700-RM900 weekly, depending on how many trips he makes.
While he has not personally experienced any harm or threats as a Grab driver, Lee said there were risks to the job, adding that safety was an issue for both drivers and passengers alike.
“We drivers are not spared from potential harm. One driver once said he was going to pick up a rider, only for a group of thugs armed with machetes to show up, coming after his head!
“Fortunately, he escaped from danger and made a police report.”
Lee said his hope each time he goes on a drive is that he will come home safely and “live another day with another adventure coming my way”.
“While I continue waiting for something good and stable to come my way, this is the least I can do to sustain myself financially, for the time being.”
Despite the risks, Lee added, he found joy in being a Grab driver, saying he had encountered many good riders with whom he had interesting conversations.
He also said he liked going out of his comfort zone and driving to places he had never been to in order to take his riders to their destinations.
“A case in point was one evening when I took my rider all the way up to Genting Highlands,” he said.
Lee said he also gained a sense of satisfaction in providing good service to his passengers.
“Nothing beats the joy of your rider thanking you, with some even declaring that they will give you a five-star rating at the end of the trip.”
For Daniel Chow, meanwhile, his stint as a Grab driver is on a part-time basis, to enable him to earn some extra pocket money to cover the cost of his car loan.
The 31-year-old is a full-time teacher and provides his Grab services mostly around the Alor Setar area in Kedah.
While his experience as a driver has been largely uneventful, Chow said he too had had one or two interesting episodes.
“There was this occasion when I had to pick up four passengers who had just arrived at the Kuala Kedah jetty terminal from Langkawi, and send them all the way to Kuala Perlis, which is about an hour away.
“The reason was, they were unable to get ferry tickets from Langkawi to Kuala Perlis,” said Chow, who signed up as a Grab driver in March.
Given what had happened to Aiman, Chow said he was now more wary whenever he headed out for a drive.
He said this was especially the case when people looked suspicious, particularly those who sit next to the driver in the front passenger seat.
“But that for me is mostly my imagination. I am definitely being extra careful in case anything happens,” he added.
He said he could make about RM10 an hour if he was lucky.
“Otherwise, there are days where I can sit two to three hours with no requests, and will finally give up waiting. That can be quite unpleasant.
“On a good day, I can earn up to RM100 by driving 10 to 12 hours,” he added.