E-hailing providers must provide panic button: SPAD

KUALA LUMPUR: All e-hailing providers will be required to incorporate an SOS button into their mobile application to ensure public safety is guaranteed, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) said.

Its chief executive officer, Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah, said the button would allow passengers to notify the authorities immediately if they feel they are in danger.

"This is something we would like to see all new and existing e-hailing providers do as soon as possible even before the law which allows us to regulate them comes into place," Azharuddin told reporters after meeting with top representatives of Uber Malaysia in the wake of recent incidents involving Uber drivers.

At the same time, Azharuddin pointed out that they would like to see more stringent checks on the drivers to be conducted before these drivers are allowed to pick up passengers.

"Some of these potential checks include psychometric testing or behavioural checks on the drivers.

"Another thing that we would require these e-hailing providers to do is for them to share all their drivers' details with the commission so that we can conduct another round of checking with the relevant authorities," he said.

Aware that currently there are no laws regulating the e-hailing providers, Azharuddin stressed that these proactive measures are necessary to be implemented to ensure full compliance from all as well as high standard of safety are adhered to.

"This is because once the law comes into place, these e-hailing providers would then have the responsibilities of public transport e-hailing operators to which they are required to conduct all the necessary checks like background, medical and criminal checks on the drivers.

"Hence, if at anytime after the law comes into place and there are any e-hailing operators who flout the law, we would not hesitate to take stern action against them, including financial penalty or suspension," he said.

Azharuddin added the commission would work closely with all e-hailing providers to ensure they follow closely the measures listed.

On the recent crime incidents involving Uber drivers, Azharuddin said the commission is waiting for the police to complete their investigation before taking the necessary action including blacklisting them from becoming e-hailing or taxi drivers.

He assured the public that their safety is the commission's top priority while making sure the operators play their part.

Azharuddin added SPAD will be meeting senior officials of Grab today to convey the same message to them.