Myanmar seeks to regulate ride hailing apps to provide level field

Photo: Juliet Shwe Gaung. Sule Pagoda in Yangon.

The Myanmar government is looking at coming out with regulations to govern the technology-based ride-hailing app space, seeking to provide a level playing field to the operators.

Nilar Kyaw, Minister of Electricity, Industry, Transport & Communication said at the regional Parliament earlier this month that the Road Transport Administration Department and the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) were working together to regulate the mobile application-based taxi services that have gained popularity in Yangon since the past few years.

Starting with Hello Cabs’s operation in 2014 and Oway Ride’s launch in 2016, Yangon is also the battle field of global rivals Grab and Uber who hit the road in early 2017.

The Road Transport Administration Department currently handles the issuing of licensed taxis in Myanmar. Hence, the app-based taxi services are operating with licenced taxi drivers in Myanmar unlike other countries where private vehicle drivers are being recruited.

The minister said, the YRTA has held discussions with the four tech-based taxi services and was in the process of setting rules and regulations for the taxi industry to provide a level playing field and improve quality of services for the users.

Member of Parliament Nay Bone Latt from Thingunkyun township expressed concerns that the bigger and well-funded international companies operating the ride-hailing taxis could easily scrape out the smaller local operators in the business.

The competition within the major four players during 2017 has been hotting up as they sign on more member drivers and offer incentives to increase trip orders, resulting in a more convenient booking process for users.

Of the 54-million strong population in Myanmar, nearly 5 million reside in Yangon city, a hub for the ride app players. Nearly 90,000 taxis operate in the city while official figures from the Road Transport Administration Department estimate the number to be over 67,000.

The four app-based ride-hailing firms operate taxi service (cars) in Yangon while Oway Ride recently introduced three-wheeled taxis in Mandalay and Grab is now providing a beta test on the app-based motorcycle in Mandalay.

The fast-growing ride-hailing sector – seen as a panacea to congested cities – has triggered regulatory reviews to fresh formulation of guidelines governing this space across various countries in the region.

For instance, in Thailand, the transport authorities have found that drivers of the ride-hailing services were not properly registered or insured and the payment system have failed to meet the regulations. A number of drivers in Thailand have been fined and the state is considering using an emergency measure to shut down the apps if needed.

In Indonesia, new regulations on the taxis, effective since April 1 2017, have been criticized by the ride hailing app-based companies. The new regulations allows municipalities to set a price cap on fares charged by the app-based taxis. Apart from that, the norms also place a ceiling on the number of vehicles operating in a district.

A foreign investor in Myanmar, requesting anonymity, said, any regulation “should apply equally to both foreign and local participants and should not be burdensome. It should aim to give Myanmar consumers the greatest choice.”

Also Read:

Myanmar’s Oway looks to emulate Go-Jek as it expands to three-wheel taxis

Grab rolls out new tech features to capture market share in Myanmar

Uber partners licenced taxis for Myanmar foray

 

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.