‘Tourism industry to suffer if e-hailing service halted’ – Abd Karim


KUCHING: Sarawak’s tourism industry will be affected if its e-hailing service such as Uber and Grab ceased, said Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He added that this was because the public transport in the state was less than satisfactory.

“If we stop Uber and Grab, it will affect our tourism industry particularly when these e-hailing services are the latest trend in the global transport system,” he said in commenting on the recent appeal made by taxi drivers to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to help them cushion the blow resulting from the operation of Uber and Grab in the state.

Speaking to reporters after witnessing the handover of duties from his ministry’s former Permanent Secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik to new Permanent Secretary Hii Chang Kee at Baitulmakmur Building here yesterday, Abdul Karim called on taxi operators in the state to look at the operation of e-hailing services such as Uber and Grab holistically.

“The drop in business among taxi operators occurred not only to those in Sarawak and Malaysia but all over the world.

“When there is change in the system, where in this case customers can hail a cab to bring them from one place to another simply by using their smartphone, this will no doubt create issues for taxi operators.”

He related that the state government also faced a similar problem with chartered boat (bot tambang) operators.

“When we built the Darul Hana Bridge, a lot of them voiced their dissatisfaction. But how can you stop development? You cannot tell the government not to build the bridge.

“Likewise, taxi drivers cannot tell the government to stop Uber or Grab because this is the trend that is all over the world. That is a fact and therefore, they (taxi operators) have to change their mindset,” he stressed. He also suggested that for those who feel reluctant to continue as taxi drivers, they should consider becoming Uber or Grab drivers to improve their income.

Nevertheless, Abdul Karim was optimistic that the government would look into this matter faced by taxi operators in more detail such as to give leeway or reduce their operation cost.

“The government will also need time to look at regulating the operations of Uber and Grab more systematically because this needs to go through many processes.”