KUCHING: Local e-hailing company Grab will have fewer drivers on the road as many may not be able to get the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence by the deadline today (July 12).
Without the licence they cannot offer e-hailing service or risk prosecution.
Authorised Grab Alpha, Abang Fadzli Abang Fauzi, 30, said that this was due to the many requirements like medical check-up, six hours course and a PSV written exam.
A Grab Alpha is a person authorised by Grab to do verification and register new drivers, and arranges training and briefing for the drivers.
Additionally, cars older than three years need to get checked at Puspakom, Abang Fadzli said.
On the course, he said it can also be done online.
“The PSV exam is tough as there are seven sets. There are 60 questions and to pass, you need to get 48 correct. If you fail, you need to retake it,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
“For the medical test, they can have it done at any private or government clinic. This is to ensure the driver is not involved in drugs, and doesn’t have health issues that may affect their driving. This is to be borne by the drivers themselves but for now, they can claim the cost from Grab.”
He added that he got his licence last month and applications can be submitted directly to the Grab Driver Centre at Plaza Aurora.
Asked about the physical licence, he said that there is no need to display it.
Abang Fadzli has been driving Grab for over three years and it gives him freedom to be his own boss.
He added that it may be hard for many people to believe, but he covered his wedding expenses with his earnings from driving Grab.
Another Authorised Grab Alpha Muhammad Hisyam Sulaiman, 31, said it took him one and a half months to complete the process of obtaining the licence, adding he went to apply for it the moment Grab announced it to all drivers.
It was slightly more tedious for him as his car was more than three years old and he needed to bring it for Puspakom testing.
“The Puspakom testing still took an entire day despite me going online to book a spot for my car. This is because Puspakom only has two lanes to accommodate all vehicles, and there are so many vehicles coming in for checking each day.
“I heard that for walk-in cases, they have to depend on luck or end up coming back the next day if the queue numbers run out. The drivers have to come as early as 5am before the registration counter opens to get their queue number.
“For me, I went at 7am and only completed the testing at 6pm. Those who came at 5am, could leave by 3pm,” he said.
On the exam, he said that it was not too hard for him but for those who did not study all the books, information, tips, it might be quite hard to pass it. He managed to pass it on one sitting.
Asked on his opinion on the new regulation, he said that it was a good start towards e-hailing legalisation especially on insurance protection.
He started driving Grab in March 2017 and he chose this path as a platform to meet new people everyday aside from earning an income.
For Harun Jau, 50s, he said he was yet to get his licence as he had just applied for it.
Following a briefing he attended last week, he said he found out that it was a requirement for all e-hailing drivers.
“At first when I heard about it (PSV licence), I just ignored it. After the briefing then I understood that it is mandatory to continue being a Grab driver,” he said.
As he had just applied for it, he did not know the cost and how long the process would be.
He started working as a full-time Grab driver last March.
Meanwhile, Grab Malaysia said that despite its efforts only 10 per cent of its active driver-partners have obtained their PSV licence.
Some of the main issues highlighted are: clarity of regulatory requirements and additional information needed by regulatory agencies that differ from state to state, difficulty in navigating through the application process across various authorities, and completing the process within the limited time frame.
“We do anticipate a reduction of driver-partners active on the roads. With fewer driver-partners active on the roads to serve an ever increasing demand for ride-hailing, consumers will feel the pinch of longer waiting time,” said Grab Malaysia when contacted yesterday.
As such, passengers are advised to pre-plan their travel during this period by booking their ride earlier and be ready when the driver arrives, especially if they have a flight to catch or need to get to an important meeting. They are also reminded not to cancel a ride if they manage to get one even though the waiting time may seem unusually long.
Getting a ride is much easier outside the peak hours of 7am to 9am and 5pm to 8pm, the company pointed out.
“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.”
Asked on the total number of registered driver-partners in Sarawak and those with PSV licence, Grab did not release absolute numbers by the states, only overall in Malaysia.
The Borneo Post was unable to confirm the number of drivers as Grab is currently reaching out to its drivers to confirm their PSV licence status.
A PSV licence is a requirement set by the Ministry of Transport for e-hailing drivers ferrying paying passengers such as taxis and buses.