In October 2013, transportation service UBER‘s UberBLACK was launched in Malaysia. UberBLACK is a premium product which features more luxurious sedans such as Toyota Camry, Nissan Teana, and Honda Accord. With a mobile app as its virtual connectivity platform, UBER connects drivers to riders in 160+ cities around the world. However, the UberBLACK service could be just a tad too expensive for those who want to depend on the service to get around.
Hence, more recently, the company launched a more affordable version of their service called uberX.
The price of a uberX ride is lower than a UberBlack ride and 15% lower than budget taxis and therefore, makes riding an uberX cheaper than even some shopping mall parking dockets! The uberX vehicles in Kuala Lumpur includes:
- Perodua Myvi
- Nissan Almera
- Toyota Vios
It instantly became a hit because Kuala Lumpur has always been in dire need of something that’s reliable, safe, and fuss-free! More importantly, Uber charges as low as RM1.15 for every km with a starting charge of RM3 and a minimum charge of RM5 for a trip – for UberBlack, at least. The company’s fares are also fixed at:
- RM68 for a one-way trip from KL to Putrajaya.
- RM270 for premium transport service from KL to KLIA.
- RM80 for budget transport service from KL to KLIA.
- RM150 from KL to Genting Highlands, Pahang.
Just to name a few. However, following a week-long debate between Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and taxi drivers (who claim that their business had been affected by the the availability of Uber), Uber is now declared illegal in Malaysia.
Yes, you read right. Illegal.
According to deputy president of the Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-Syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia (Gabungan) Datuk Mohd Alias Abdul:
The company does not have any business licence or office in Malaysia but has been operating in dozens of cities around the world through the Internet and smartphone application. What’s worrying is that Uber does not have a taxi permit issued by SPAD and it is also believed that its drivers do not have the public service vehicle (PSV) licence. This situation will cause many problems to the passengers in the event of any untoward incidents, crime cases or road accidents.
He also added that Uber’s transport service had affected the income of taxi drivers in the Klang Valley as the company fixed its fares based on its estimation on the distance and time of service.
Apart from that, Uber service providers did not have to bear the various costs of operation as normal taxi drivers, such as having to undergo periodical inspections at the computerised vehicle inspection centre (Puspakom).
Other reasons (against Uber) stated in this report are such as:
- Uber uses private vehicles to pick up its passengers. It violates the transport law in the country because a private vehicle cannot be used as public transport because it can endanger the safety of passengers.
- Those private vehicles used by Uber might not have not undergone inspections at Puspakom.
- Licensed taxi operators are required to pay insurance premiums four times higher than private vehicles, to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users in the event of accidents. Uber doesn’t.
- The Uber service doesn’t give any indication whether its vehicles were covered by insurance.
Hence, Sunlight Radio Taxi Service Sdn Bhd executive director Ab Jalil Maarof have called the service dangerous and urged the public to not opt for Uber for their own safety while the Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-Syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia (Gabungan) had called on SPAD and other relevant agencies to take action against UBER which was operating without any business licence or office in Malaysia nor does the latter have any taxi permit issued by SPAD.
As an effect, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar have just declared Uber to be illegal.
He said the use of private vehicles to carry fare-paying passengers is an offence under the Land Public Transport Act 2010. In a press statement, he explained:
This illegal service provided could be colloquially referred to as kereta sapu. As the regulator in charge of Malaysia’s land public transport, we take compliance with the law, local rules and regulations very seriously. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action on service providers who do not comply with the law.
Furthermore, SPAD findings on Uber indicate that some of its drivers do not have a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving licence and this is an offence under the Road Transport Act 1987. As such, they will also mete out appropriate punishment on vehicle owners who violate the Land Public Transport Act 2010.
According to Bernama, the SPAD are making effort to reach out and ensure that Uber complies with Malaysian laws. They’ve attempted to contact Uber by telephone and by email but to date, Uber has not responded nor replied to any of SPAD’s outreach attempts. The SPAD added that while services provided by Uber presented a challenging issue to many public transport regulators around the world, SPAD was taking a more pragmatic approach and was ready to allow Uber’s service as long as the services are provided by appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers.
What do you guys think though? Is it really unsafe to go for Uber? Should the company be made to cease operations because of the above issues? Let us know what you think in the comment box below!