MANY of those who have signed up as drivers for ride-sharing apps such as Uber and GrabCar are feeling the heat from taxi drivers in the city.
Cases of drivers being harassed by cabbies and having their cars vandalised and damaged have been surfacing all over the Klang Valley.
“I am worried, but I need the money,” said a GrabCar driver who only wanted to be known as Joe.
“I also hear there are officers going undercover to catch us, and then there are the taxi drivers who harass us all the time,” Joe added.
According to sources from both Uber and Grabcar, the number of drivers in the Klang Valley has reached the 10,000 mark.
Both the Uber and Grabcar offices in Bangsar and Petaling Jaya are said to be crowded at all times with new recruits.
New drivers usually sign up online and attend a mini seminar on the do’s and dont’s. Many of these people are young professionals who enjoy the flexibility of becoming part-time drivers, and are looking at the easiest ways to make extra cash.
StarMetro spoke to drivers who were real-estate agents, IT professionals, engineers, lecturers and photographers. We also encountered retirees, single mothers, former taxi drivers as well as people who had recently lost their jobs and needed the cash.
“I need to pay for my studies, so I drive mostly at night,” said Jeevan, a law student from Seremban.
“My parents can only pay for my tuition fees, but I have to pay for rent and food on my own. A friend suggested that I do this,” Jeevan said.
“I got retrenched last month,” said Ramu, an engineer from Puchong.
“I need the money, so I am a full time Uber driver now,” he added.
Another driver, Rahimah from Gombak, said she sold Cosway part time, but needed the income to care for her ageing parents.
“It’s really not that hard, If you are willing to work hard, than you can easily make a few thousand ringgit a month,” she said.
“I am concerned about getting caught. I usually ask if my passenger could sit in the front passenger seat. Some don’t like it, but at the end of the day, it’s their call,” Rahimah said.
“We just have to hope that we don’t get caught,” she added.
“I was almost beaten up by a bunch of taxi drivers recently in Lim Kok Wing in Cyberjaya,” said a driver who only wished to be identified as Lim.
“I also heard there was an Uber driver whose car was vandalised by a taxi driver.
“We are worried, but times are hard and I have children to feed,” he added.
Meanwhile, retiree Jaspal, 68, said the driving helped keep him fit and healthy in both body and mind.
“It’s better than sitting at home and wasting time. Besides, I also get extra money that I can give to my grandchildren,” he said.
Apart from the authorities, drivers also have to deal with bad customers.
Many drivers confessed that expatriates were the passengers with the worst attitude.
“It is ironic that they get bad treatment from regular cab drivers, but when they use Uber, they treat us like dirt,” said Raj, an Uber driver.
“They (expats) are the most rude and impatient. They expect first class treatment from us all the time,” added Nick, a Grabcar driver.