No green light for Uber yet

KUCHING: Uber – the app-based ride-hailing service – will be operating illegally if it begins its services in the city tomorrow.

This is because Uber has not applied for a permit from the state Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP).

In order to provide taxi services here, Uber must apply for permit as stipulated under Section 51 of the LPKP Act, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nancy Shukri.

“Action can be taken against Uber because they are not registered. Under Section 51 of the Act, LPKP can enforce the law with JPJ (Road Transport Department) and PDRM (Royal Malaysia Police) coming in to seize vehicles without licence.

“As of yesterday (Sunday), Uber did not submit any permit application. Uber is still not legal until they register with LPKP Sarawak. We need to record their activities and we have to be responsible for passengers,” she told reporters when met at her residence in Taman Serira, Matang Jaya here yesterday.

Nancy cautioned that illegal Uber operators would be picked up by the authority under Section 56 of the Road Transport Act, 1987 for not possessing the specific licence to offer taxi services.

She said even if Uber registered with LPKP Sarawak, it would still have to comply with certain conditions.

“I am not saying we are suggesting Uber should be legalised yet. They need to comply with terms and conditions. It does not matter how they want to label their vehicles but they must register. At the moment, they are still not legal, so we do not recognise them.”

In Peninsular Malaysia, she said the Public Land Transport Commission (SPAD) had briefed the federal cabinet on the Taxi Transformation Plan, which also included an amendment to the Road Transport Act, 1987 to make Uber legal.

“We need to amend the law. We can see the need in cities especially Kuala Lumpur. If you look into the survey, people prefer to use Uber.

“I have not tabled to the cabinet for the amendment yet, but that should be happening quite soon. Once tabled in cabinet, then we will bring to Parliament. We hope (it can be done) in October, but I cannot promise that.”

Nancy pointed out that individual taxi operators would be given a RM5,000 grant each under the transformation plan.

As such, she hoped SPAD would share the transformation plan with LPKP Sarawak and LPKP Sabah so that taxi associations and operators in these two states could decide whether they want the plan to be extended to East Malaysia.

“Let them listen to the briefings first and taxi associations in Sarawak and Sabah will see whether they are agreeable with the plan.”

On Uber, she said it was not that actions were not taken against these illegal operators but the government was caught in a dilemma.

She admitted that the authority had no clue about who was operating as Uber since operators used ordinary vehicles.

In recalling a case, Nancy said an enforcement officer, who acted as a passenger, successfully nabbed a Uber operator but this could happen only if the enforcement team was on the ground at all times.

She said Uber operators accepted credit cards but if they doubted if a passenger is genuine, they would not accept the credit card.

“You need a receipt to show that there is a transaction. Only then can you bring them to court. If there is no such document to prove, you cannot drag them to court. This is our dilemma.”-BP

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