PUTRAJAYA: Private vehicles offering a taxi-like service through the Uber mobile app are doing so illegally.
They would face the full brunt of the law during a nationwide crackdown by the authorities from Oct 1, Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad said yesterday.
He said the service was akin to teksi sapu or kereta sapu as the vehicles were not licensed to carry fare-paying passengers.
“These vehicles are not permitted to carry fare-paying passengers and are also not covered under commercial vehicle insurance.
“It is similar to teksi sapu or illegal taxis and that is why we are taking action against them,” Ismail told a press conference here.
Ismail said the offences came under Section 16 of the Land Public Transportation Act and Section 23 of the Road Transport Act.
However, he said taxis and limousines were not affected by the ruling even though they used the app.
“It is not about the app but the private vehicles that are being used as taxis.
“Under the Road Transport Act and Land Public Transportation Act, their vehicles can be impounded and they can be fined between RM1,000 and RM10,000 or jailed up to two years,” he said.
Uber is a smartphone app that allows users to hire private vehicles to go from point A to point B.
It is a service app that uses smartphones’ location tracking technology to pair Uber drivers and passengers.
The customer enters his destination and it is up to Uber drivers to accept the request.
Prices are calculated according to a metric of time and distance although there are fixed rates between certain parts of the city and airport.
No haggling is allowed and payments are made via credit card only.
Ismail noted that the service was fast becoming popular especially in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Penang as the fares were cheaper while the vehicles used were in better condition.
For instance, he said, a trip from KL Sentral to KL International Airport was RM34.50 compared with RM55.20 should one travel with taxis.
“They offer choices of cars such as Jaguar and Mercedes Benz.
“We do not have the exact numbers of private vehicles being used for the purpose but we will find them,” he said.
In an immediate response, Uber’s South-East Asia regional general manager Mike Brown said JPJ’s actions were a “clear” attempt at protecting the taxi industry.
“Preventing our driver partners from earning a living and getting people safely and reliably around town doesn’t just hurt the residents and visitors, it hurts the city,” he told The Star.
Brown said Uber was providing better services, adding that taxis here failed Kuala Lumpur passengers.
He added that the company had a “stringent” checking process, assuring passengers that services were safe and covered by insurance.
“Uber has always worked with the driver partners to properly settle insurance claims,” he said.