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A Grab car in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS.
A Grab car in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS.

KUALA LUMPUR: It has only been five days since the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence application debacle erupted, but e-hailing companies are already seeing a worrying trend with drivers quitting the service.

Since talks on the licence application process intensified, Riding Pink, dubbed Malaysia’s first women’s only transport platform, said they had received more than a dozen calls and e-mails from drivers requesting to close their accounts.

Its senior operation and project manager, Elina Ariffin, said in a span of seven days, Riding Pink had closed 20 accounts and refunded its drivers’ credit, with more numbers expected to come if things do not change.

She said Riding Pink had many part-time drivers, thus the process of attending to all the requirements, such as sitting for a six-hour training session and going to Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centres (Puspakom) over a short period of time was difficult for them.

“Our drivers are mostly women from the Bottom 40 group.

“If they are not driving, they are at work.

“These places are open only on weekdays, thus making it difficult for them to attend the sessions,” she told the New Straits Times.

She said Riding Pink had been helping its drivers apply for licences following the Transport Ministry’s announcement in July last year.

“However, the moment they heard that the total cost could reach up to RM1,000, we started receiving requests to drop out. The process deters drivers from continuing with the service,” she said.

Grab Drivers Malaysia Association president Arif Asyraf Ali said drivers, especially part-timers, felt discouraged from continuing their service as it would incur extra costs and time.

Arif said it would be a different scenario if they could take the course online, but it was available only at authorised centres.

“There will be a huge drop in drivers come July because surely, no company would allow drivers without PSV licences to be on their platform. If they do, both of them would be answerable to the law.

“Drivers, be it part-time or full-time, will just find alternative jobs that do not require licences, such as food delivery services.

“Based on our conversations among drivers on group chats and social media postings, generally the part-timers will opt out,” he said, adding that part-time e-hailing drivers made up 30 per cent of the total Grab drivers nationwide.

Arif said unless the authorities made it less complicated and provided more time for the licence application process, commuters would most likely continue facing escalating fees and difficulty in getting rides.

 Arif Asyraf Ali
Arif Asyraf Ali

A Grab spokesman told the NST that the service caters to one in 10 Malaysians on a monthly basis.

Diff Ride chief executive officer Hannah Yong said she expected a 30 per cent drop from its existing driver network once the PSV licence requirement was implemented.

Currently, she said it had 25 per cent full-time drivers and the rest were part-timers.

“How many out of the 25 per cent full-time drivers will stay?”

She said the scenario for the e-hailing market would change drastically upon the licence implementation, and it would no longer be convenient for passengers due to reduced number of drivers.

For MyCar founder Mohd Noah Maideen, the licensing process had discouraged existing and potential drivers altogether.

He said the application process should not have burdened the drivers, with expensive cost and short time frame cited as factors that discouraged the drivers.

He hoped the government would extend the application timeline to allow drivers to obtain their PSV licences.

“Maybe on the first month, drivers can do the medical check-up first. Then, on the following month sign up for the PSV training session, then get their cars checked by Puspakom on the third month, and so on. At least they won’t need to spend a huge amount (of money) in one go,” he said.

Noah said MyCar caters to 1.3 million riders on a daily basis (12 midnight to 11.59pm) and had 70,000 registered drivers.

Transport expert Goh Bok Yeh urged the ministry to provide a longer transition period since there was no real issue concerning the service in the public transport ecosystem.

“The industry is performing well, and there is a healthy scenario of supply and demand.

“Why do we need to disrupt such harmony?

“Just let them (e-hailing drivers) work, but ensure that they register.

“Don’t create unnecessary problems that you have to later solve.

“Just give them more time.”

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