The reason why Private Hire Drivers are resorting to street pickups

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Ever since Uber debuted in the world, we have witnessed one protest after the other. Some violent, most peaceful – but all unsatisfactory.

Last week the Executive Advisor of the National Taxi Association, Mr. Ang Hin Kee was quoted to have raised the issue of illegal street pickups to the Land Transport Authority. 

The Road Traffic Act prohibits private hire vehicles from performing street hires. This is the domain of taxi companies and for the privilege, these companies have subjected themselves to regulation and licensing.

Ang Hin Kee has a very interesting perspective of why this (illegal street pickups) may be happening.

It is not a matter of private hire drivers “trying their luck”.

Neither is it simply “greed”.

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Now, when Uber/Grab asks a person to be a private hire driver, what do their glossy advertisements promise? They’re promising easy customers; all you need is a phone and off you go. You can even rent your car from us. They tell you that their apps are intelligent enough to connect customers to drivers, that with surge pricing earnings are maximised. They’re asking you to join them and make up to $8k a month.

But there are realities they don’t tell you.

They won’t teach you how to figure out (realistically) how many customers you can pick up in a day. They won’t teach you how to analyse the risk of committing to long term vehicle rental. They won’t tell you how to comb through an insurance policy to look out for situations that will work against you. They also won’t remind you that you’re driving a petrol based car and your costs are significantly higher than taxi’s. 

And people base life decisions on these promises.

People with elderly parents, people with children, people with bills to pay, debts to service and futures to build hinge their trust on this promise and what happens when they find out that they’re not making enough to make ends meet?

Why… they do illegal things of course…

Mr. Ang tells us that these kerbside pickups are tell tale signs that perhaps all is not well with private hire drivers. If they are really pounding the roads and minting $8k a month, why on God’s green earth would they take risks like this? Penalties include an impounding of the car, imprisonment and/or hefty fines.

We should not really get one group of drivers angry with the other. All of us are workers and all of us are out in the market trying to make a living.

From a labour movement’s perspective, you must look at working people and ask: what is the appropriate action they (the private hire companies) must do to ensure all working people get a fair, safe and positive working environment? We should not end up pitting one type of drivers against another” says Mr. Ang

Responsibility is the primary focus here. The onus is on the taxi companies and the private hire companies to advice, warn and educate their potential drivers on economic reality. If the drivers know, the chances of them resorting to illegal activity will evaporate.

 

Source: MomentumT – https://soundcloud.com/user-578487190/ahk-taxi

 

 

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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