By Ong Kian Ming
Earlier this month, in a dialogue session organised by the DAP with e-hailing drivers, one of the main complaints we heard was that there was no independent body or a third party which the drivers can appeal to if they disagreed with a decision by the e-hailing company they are driving for.
For example, we heard complaints from a number of drivers who claimed to have been banned or suspended from an e-hailing company for no apparent reason.
Many taxi drivers also have complaints against the companies they are driving for.
They also have no independent body or third body which can hear their complaints and make a ruling.
The Land Public Transport Act (Amendment) 2010, which is currently being debated in parliament, does not address this problem at all.
As such, I proposed a motion to introduce a new section in this act to establish a “Taxi Drivers’ and E-hailing Drivers’ Tribunal”.
This tribunal is similar to the Consumers’ Tribunal which was established in Section 85 to Section 122 of the Consumers’ Protection Act 1999.
Sadly, my motion to introduce this tribunal was rejected by the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
In her reply in parliament, the Minister in charge of tabling this bill, Dato’ Sri Nancy Shukri rejected the need for a tribunal because she said that SPAD can currently handle the complaints of the taxi drivers and later on, of the e-hailing drivers when e-hailing is legalised after the gazetting of this bill and the e-hailing licenses have been approved.
The problem with this suggestion is that SPAD may not have the legal jurisdiction to compel the e-hailing companies to follow its decisions on disputes between drivers and their companies.
For example, SPAD may find that an e-hailing company owes a driver thousands of ringgit in unpaid fares that is subject to a dispute.
Can SPAD compel the e-hailing company to pay this driver his unpaid fares? Or will the driver have to go to court to seek his unpaid fares? The advantage of a tribunal is that it is a cost-effective way for drivers to have their complaints heard without the need to pay expensive legal and court fees.
There is also the question of whether SPAD has the capacity to investigate and hear all the cases involving e-hailing drivers after this act is passed and gazetted.
This tribunal is not just for e-hailing drivers.
It can also be used by taxi drivers who have complaints against their companies.
Since this tribunal is not likely to be established under this act, I call upon all e-hailing and taxi drivers who have complaints against their companies to call the SPAD complaint hotline (1800-88-7723), SMS SPAD at 15888 or email SPAD at [email protected] to lodge their complaints, if they have any, against their respective companies, to show SPAD that there is an urgent need for a Drivers’ Tribunal to hear and to rule on these complaints.
Ong Kian Ming is Serdang MP.
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