Lucrative side hustle sways drivers

PETALING JAYA: When software engineer E. Chan returned from Jakarta late one evening, he found that he couldn’t book an ehailing ride from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to his home in Petaling Jaya.

His ehailing app showed that there were no drivers available to take him home from the airport.

Tired of waiting, he approached an airport transfer booth.

He was offered a luxury multipurpose vehicle with a RM300 fare, while the usual price for airport transfers through ehailing apps is about RM80, inclusive of toll fees. Chan declined and was then offered a sedan ride costing RM150.

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Upon reaching the designated car, he saw the vehicle had an ehailing sticker pasted on the windscreen and suspected something amiss.

From chatting with the driver, he found out that the person was in fact an ehailing driver and working with a private car company to ferry passengers from KLIA.The driver also told Chan that he took this up as a side gig as he could earn more compared to the rates offered by ehailing platforms.

The driver revealed that many other ehailing colleagues were also working for the private airport transfer company, as the company did not have its own fleet. Instead, ehailing drivers are offering their services to ferry customers for private companies, with the companies also working together with them.

The lack of available drivers for ehailing platforms results in customers frequently being denied the more affordable option of using ehailing rides from KLIA. Instead, passengers have to opt for private transportation services.

Ehailing groups, however, say using such services is risky because ehailing drivers and their passengers may not be covered by insurance.

Furthermore, ehailing drivers who take on offline jobs are doing so illegally.

Describing it as a longstanding problem, Gabungan Teksi Malaysia president Kamarudin Mohd Hussain said this practice has been around since before ehailing services took off in Malaysia.

He also called on consumers to only opt for official providers when utilising ride services.

“If the public does have problems getting a ride, they can ask the airport authorities at the specific counters that offer legitimate transport services. Taxis are plenty at the airport, but the public opts for other services instead,” he said.Kamarudin said the Road Transport Department should tackle this issue with more urgency and efficiency, as it’s an old issue.

“The department’s enforcement unit has to be revamped so that related issues can be tackled in a transparent and swift manner. It has to be given a breath of fresh air. The matter is not something that has been happening on and off.

“We hope that this Madani government will also tackle government agencies’ inefficiencies in carrying out enforcement duties,” he said.

Malaysia E-Hailing Drivers Association president Daryl Chong said consumers themselves had to weigh the risk and gain that came with using such services.“Drivers too must know the risk they are taking. If accidents happen, it can be difficult for the driver to make insurance claims, seeing how offering services outside the app is legally wrong.

“When nothing happens, all is rosy, but once trouble comes, things will be different,” he said, adding that he was aware of some drivers doing “offline jobs” as a means for extra income.

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