Taxi Drivers Threaten To Hold Massive Six-Day Protest Against Uber And Grab

Cabbies are not happy that the government has officially green-lighted ride-sharing services.

Cover image via The Malay Mail Online

Disgruntled taxi drivers warned that they will launch a massive strike lasting six consecutive days following the Land Public Transport Commission's (SPAD) move to legalise ride-sharing services Uber and Grab

Some 300 taxi drivers gathered along Jalan Bukit Bintang on 29 March, bringing weekday KL traffic to a halt.

Image via Joshua Eriksson Zen

The government announced that it has given SPAD the go-ahead to regulate Uber and Grab on Thursday, 11 August, after its CEO Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah presented plans to legalise ride-sharing services and revamp the taxi industry.

On the Cabinet's unanimous decision to approve Uber and Grab, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said that it was done in the interest of the people's needs, saying, “We have no problem regulating Uber and Grab because that’s what people want. We are being objective and we are guided by the interest of the public," he said.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also remarked that SPAD will be empowered to deregulate restrictions and requirements imposed on taxis to provide an equal competitive platform.

Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain, president of the Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association (PERS1M), said that the goal is to show the government that "the taxi industry is suffering because of the unfair playing field"

PERS1M president Kamaruddin Mohd Hussain.

Image via The Malaysian Insider

"The date (of the protest) has yet to be determined but it will take place," he said.

Kamaruddin added that taxi drivers are not happy that the Cabinet has decided to allow SPAD to green-light Uber and Grab, which they claim have been "stealing" their customers. Cabbies have also complained that drivers of ride-sharing services are competing unfairly against them as they do not have to adhere to the same licensing and regulatory requirements set by SPAD.

Kamaruddin also said that Uber and GrabCar drivers should be subjected to safety tests and vehicle inspections by PUSPAKOM like all taxi drivers do

"It will not be long before they realise how difficult and expensive it is to maintain our vehicles," he said.

For context, Uber and GrabCar typically use their own vehicles to provide rides and are not required to acquire a separate driving license from the one they already have.

Taxi drivers, however, are required to have a driving license for public service vehicles and other conditions, such as subjecting their vehicles to safety tests and bi-annual vehicle inspections by PUSPAKOM to ensure the safety of the driver, passengers, and other road users.

Meanwhile, founder of Big Blue Taxi Services has declared that he, along with other taxi drivers, will fully support the new Parti Pribumi as they "cannot rely on Barisan Nasional anymore"

Founder and advisor of Big Blue Taxi Services Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail.

Image via The Malay Mail Online

Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail, who has repeatedly accused Uber and Grab of stealing business from taxi drivers in the country, said that taxi drivers will no longer support Barisan Nasional (BN) if it goes ahead with legalising the ride-sharing services.

"This approval is a no-go for me. For the taxi industry, no-go, we will fight all the way. We will make sure if Uber is legalised by the end of this year, we will 100 per cent support the new party which is Parti Pribumi" he said.

"We will support Tan Sri Muhyiddin [Yassin], we hope Tan Sri Muhyiddin will support the industry and transform the industry properly. Because we cannot rely on Barisan Nasional anymore."

Do you think the taxi drivers have a point? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Taxi drivers have previously congregated in the heart of KL city, causing traffic to come to a halt on a workday:

Strikes by taxi drivers over Uber and Grab previously caused massive congestion in the city centre whenever these were held, and a six-day long protest could cripple traffic in Kuala Lumpur.

Some have also resorted to violence against ride-sharing drivers and those they presume (incorrectly) to be:

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