Cabbies threaten action over ‘preferential treatment’ for e-hailing drivers

E-hailing companies such as Grab are receiving special treatment over taxi drivers, two groups allege.

PETALING JAYA: Two groups representing hundreds of taxi drivers have hit out at the transport ministry for allowing e-hailing drivers to apply for the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence online, saying it is giving preferential treatment to companies such as Grab.

In Putrajaya, Gabungan Pertubuhan Teksi, Kereta Sewa, Limosin dan Teksi Lapangan Terbang Se’Malaysia (GTSM), a federation of 200 taxi associations, handed over a memorandum to Dr Mahathir Mohamad at Perdana Putra to seek his intervention in the dispute.

Bernama reported the federation was unhappy that e-hailing companies like Grab were being given preferential treatment and demanded a level playing field for taxi drivers.

The memorandum was accepted by an officer at the Prime Minister’s Department.

According to Bernama, GTSM president Kamarudin Mohd Hussain then lodged a report against Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters nearby, claiming that Loke was abusing his powers in the matter of taxi drivers and e-hailing services.

In Kuala Lumpur, Big Blue Taxi Facilities Sdn Bhd said it wanted the government to withdraw its decision to allow online application for the PSV licence within the next 72 hours, failing which taxi drivers across the country will stage protests at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Putrajaya and Langkawi.

“The protest will be organised a month after Hari Raya to express our dissatisfaction with the transport minister, who is seen as favouring Grab drivers over us,” said the company’s adviser, Shamsubahrin Ismail.

“Before that, I will organise a meeting with the IGP and the attorney-general for advice on the laws relating to the taxi industry. After meeting with them, the date of the protest will be set and I will rally all taxi drivers to join in,” he said.

Shamsubahrin described the ministry’s offer to allow e-hailing drivers to apply for the PSV licence online as “biased”.

He said the ministry should be more transparent and fair as taxi drivers had to undergo classes previously to obtain the licence.

Although members of Big Blue Taxi could now sit for the test online, he said the system could be open to abuse.

“We realise the benefit of taking the PSV licence online as it will cut costs but there are many other factors that need to be finetuned.

“More importantly, how can we be sure the test is taken by the e-hailing drivers themselves?

“In fact, we have received complaints that some e-hailing drivers don’t speak Bahasa Malaysia well, so how can they take this test online?” Bernama quoted him as saying.

Shamsubahrin said if the ministry did not want to revert to the original agreement of not allowing the PSV licence test to be taken online, then it should “cancel all taxi permits and allow private cars to be e-hailing vehicles”.

“This way, we hope there will be fairer competition as previously taxi drivers had to go through stringent procedures to get the licence,” he said.

Under new rules announced recently, e-hailing drivers must apply for the PSV licence before July 12. They also require insurance for their vehicles.

Vehicles over three years old must also be be sent to Puspakom for inspection.