Taxi operator Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail said private cars operating for Uber and Grab do not have to undergo the same regulatory requirement for taxis. (File pix)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government must stop its preferential treatment to ride-hailing service providers.

A taxi operator Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail said private cars operating for Uber and Grab do not have to undergo the same regulatory requirement for taxis.

Uber and Grab pose an unfair competition, and many cab drivers have voiced their discontent for a long time, he said.

He urged the government to stop blaming the taxi industry for its woes such as expensive fares, poor driver attitude and lousy vehicle condition.

"Just a small percentage of taxi drivers are bad, and that is because the relevant government agencies did not take action against them.

"As for the charges, taxi rates are the rates set by the government and are on the low side," he told reporters in a press conference today.

He was responding to a recent comment by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing that the public prefers e-hailing services over conventional taxi service due to competitive pricing, easy accessibility and security.

He threatened to withdraw support for Barisan Nasional if the government proceeds to support Uber and Grab.

Shamsubahrin, who claimed to represent more than 3,000 taxi drivers, said that majority of them, including their family members, are prepared to vote the Opposition.

At the same time, Shamsubahrin claimed that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) are still powerless in enforcing regulation for Uber and Grab drivers.

"Despite the approval of the Land Public Transport (Amendment) Bill 2017, SPAD is still powerless to regulate e-hailing services," he said.

Under the Act, e-hailing operators must obtain business licences from SPAD before legally operating.

SPAD will be overseeing the renewal of license, revocation or suspension of licence and prohibition of transfer of licence, among others.

The Act also allows for SPAD to prescribe form and content of any hire-purchase arrangement or agreement between the licensed operators and their drivers.

SPAD, with the police and the Road Transport Department (RTD), will also screen drivers to check for any disciplinary violations.

On another note, Shamsubahrin said the government should provide an allocation for taxi drivers to convert their vehicle to electric cars.

He said electric vehicles have been growing in popularity among taxi operators in other countries such as Singapore, Japan and China.

"The engine can be converted from gasoline to electricity, without replacing the vehicle.

"In view of the rising fuel price and lack of facilities offering Natural Gas for Vehicles (NGV), the government should push for electric taxis," he said.

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