Cabinet approves plan to legalise Uber and Grab

PUTRAJAYA: Uber and Grab services are set to be legalised soon as the government has given the green light to Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to regulate the e-hailing taxi concept by year-end.

The decision was reached after a presentation by SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah at the Cabinet meeting today to revamp the conventional taxi industry and expand transport services by legalising the controversial Uber and Grab services.

Among the 11 initiatives presented today, the Cabinet was particularly pleased with the proposal to transform the taxi industry by improving the Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M) model, streamlining the budget cabs fleet and a suggestion for a special fund for new taxi vehicles.

The Cabinet was also happy with the move to provide individual taxi permits to conventional cabbies with good and clean track records alongside a new mechanism for cab companies to strive for improvement.

Currently, there are around 77,000 registered taxi drivers nationwide.

It is also learned the Cabinet collectively agreed that the inclusion of Uber and Grab and taxi industry transformation were essential for the benefit of the rakyat.

"It is apparent that the people want taxi services improved," said a high-level source in the Prime Minister's Department.

As a matter of formality, the final hurdle to legalise Uber and Grab will be amendments to laws involving the relevant government agencies at the Parliament sitting in November.

In the next three years, it is estimated around 150,000 new individual permit holders, consisting of Uber, Grab and conventional taxi drivers, will co-exist in the market.

There was a sigh of relief among the high-ranking SPAD officials after the presentation.

"This is the result of long hours of collating, sharing and finalising the best ideas from stakeholders, starting with the taxi lab organised last November," said a SPAD manager.

However, it is unclear if public service vehicle licence issuance and training would still remain with Road Transport Department or as a shared responsibility with SPAD.

When contacted, a SPAD spokesman said all details agreed to by the Cabinet today would be revealed to the public early next week.

"The commission will brief the stakeholders first and we will be making a formal announcement soon after receiving the minutes of meeting from the Cabinet," he said.