Grab warns of longer wait times as Malaysia nears rollout of new regulation

Photo: Grab website

With new e-hailing regulations set to kick in on July 12, users of Grab Malaysia will have to wait longer for their rides, said the ride-hailing startup in a statement on Tuesday.

Grab Malaysia expects a reduction of active driver-partners on roads that could result in longer queues and waiting time for customers – causing inconvenience especially during peak hours and rainy days.

“We hope that this imbalance in supply and demand will be transient. We commit to continue working closely with the authorities to clear the obstacles for our driver-partners, so that many more can continue to earn an income via ride-hailing and serve the daily commuting needs of everyone,” it said.

To date, only 10 per cent of Grab Malaysia’s driver-partners have successfully obtained their public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

“While we have been trying our very best to support our driver-partners to obtain the PSV licence, we have heard from some of them, especially part-timers, that they are reconsidering whether to continue driving,” said Grab Malaysia in its statement. “Their concerns include: finding time to complete the process within the limited timeframe while juggling a full-time job; and difficulty in navigating through the application process across various authorities,” it added.

The licensing regime to regulate the e-hailing industry was announced last November, which mandated all e-hailing drivers to register for a PSV licence and undergo a six-hour training at accredited driving centres.

The application process for the PSV licence began this April that saw the Malaysian e-hailing industry and its over 200,000 drivers grappling with greater clarity in order to comply with the regulatory requirements.

However, it was only last month that the Malaysian government gave the green light for e-hailing operators including Grab to develop and run PSV training courses online to speed up the process.

Grab Malaysia noted the digital training process has since then attracted almost 20 per cent of its active driver-partners to complete their PSV training in four weeks’ time.

Higher fares?

Besides longer waiting time, consumers may also have to face higher fares for e-hailing services due to the lack of supply, according to local media reports.

The Malaysia E-hailing Drivers Association (MeHDA) predicted fares for e-hailing services to go up to 50 per cent. However, Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke ensured that e-hailing fares “will remain reasonable“, indicating that such claims of surchage were only speculations.

“These are all speculations, we have not come to regulating the fares but of course we are looking at the various development in other countries. We would always look at the development and changes around us, we would formulate our policy and make necessary changes from time to time,” he said.

As of July 2, Loke revealed that around 62 per cent of the PSV licence applicants between April and June have obtained the licence. About 16,638 applicants sat for the PSV licence application theory test in the same period and 10,151 passed the test.

Some of the key milestones on the road towards regulation:

  • 11 July 2018: Government announced that e-hailing will be regulated with a one-year moratorium to comply
  • 27 March 2019: Regulators announced that registration and training for PSV licence to start on April1, 2019 at selected driving institutes and centres
  • 31 March 2019: Government will look into amending laws to allow disabled (OKU) drivers to apply for PSV licence
  • 1 April 2019: Application and registration for PSV licence officially began at selected driving institutes and centres
  • 17 May 2019: Government approved e-PSV online training to ease the application process for driver-partners
  • 14 June 2019: Disabled (OKU) drivers given the green light to start their PSV licence application process
  • 1 July 2019: A mass exam for disabled (OKU) drivers organised by Ministry of Transport
  • 9 July 2019: Ministry of Transport presented OKU drivers who have passed exams with their PSV license.