Govt keeping tabs on e-hailing services

Govt keeping tabs on e-hailing services

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will monitor e-hailing services from time to time and analyse the information gathered, before making any changes including to the proposed fare regulatory mechanism.

“To date, there are more than 10 major e-hailing service providers,” said the Land Public Transport Agency in a statement to Bernama following consumer complaints regarding the current e-hailing price hike and driver shortage, especially during peak hours.

Fares were reported to have increased by up to 400% during peak hours, triggering dissatisfaction among consumers who want government intervention, especially for price regulation of e-hailing services.

According to the agency, the concept of e-hailing service involves mutual agreement between users and service providers for travel bookings through an application that displays the fare amount with users having the option to continue with the bookings.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Azman Hashim International Business School senior lecturer Dr Nur Azam Anuarul Perai said the proposal to regulate prices, including setting a ceiling price, has caused fears that there would be a shortage of drivers as many could quit due to inadequate returns.

“Price hikes mostly occur during peak hours when demand is higher, and the situation will worsen if there is a driver shortage.”

On a possible drop in service quality due to market dominance by certain companies, Nur Azam said the price hike is not necessarily due to monopoly practices but many other factors.

He added that high demand and supply challenges are among factors contributing to the rise in fares, creating a seller’s market, namely a situation in which prices are set by sellers or service providers.

“It is an inevitable phenomenon in a free market where prices are influenced by demand.”

Nur Azam also ruled out the existence of monopolies in the industry as there are no restrictions to set up an e-hailing company.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman expressed hope that there would be more competition among e-hailing companies to ensure consumers get satisfactory services at reasonable prices.

“The quality of e-hailing service is now being equated with the previous taxi services (before the existence of e-hailing), where the price was very high and unreasonable, especially during peak hours,” he said, adding that the authorities should probe claims of monopoly elements in the industry. – Bernama