Motorcycle taxi service provider Dego Ride is facing unnecessary headwinds in Malaysia, going by the remarks of some high officials.
For example, Road Transport Department (RTD) director-general Nadzri Siron was reported to have said “I urge the public not to use the service for now because passengers would be endangering their lives by using an unlicensed service.”
If the statement is true, then lives will not be endangered for using licenced services such as taxis and buses, but family members, friends and fare-paying passengers are endangering their lives travelling in private cars and motorcycles simply because they are not licensed.
Taking a Dego Ride is just as safe, or dangerous, as millions of others riding pillion on motorcycles. If RTD is concerned on the safety of pillion riders, it should start with those not wearing helmets and motorcycles with more than two people on it.
My daughter travelled regularly to neighbouring countries for business meetings and often used motorcycle service to beat notorious traffic jams, always reaching the venues on time.
Back home, the majority of Dego Ride passengers are women, taking advantage of the low fares starting at RM2.50 for the first 3km plus 60 sen for every subsequent kilometre.
Motorcycle taxi service is provided by theBottom 40 per cent (B40) income group and passengers, too, are mostly in the same group.
It is a B40 for B40 supply and demand. Any action against them will be just as heartless as banning motorcycles from the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Citing pollution as one of the reasons clearly showed that high officials are living in ivory towers, as two-stroke motorcycle engines have no longer been sold in the country for a long time.
These engines tend to be smoky as a little lubricating oil is burnt together with the petrol at each combustion stroke.
When the Motor Tariff was introduced in the 1970s, the premiums for road vehicles included cars that can be driven, and motorcycles that can be ridden, by the customers.
Earlier in the 1960s, a few companies applied for the Hire & Drive permits, initially with the Registrar and Inspector of Motor Vehicles (RIMV) and later from the Road Transport Licensing Board (RTLB).
RIMV was changed to RTD after RTLB was set up, and the latter was later renamed the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board.
Hire & Drive permits were meant for self-drive until 2003 when the Tourism Ministry allowed them to be used for chauffeur-driven services.
The ministry continues to issue these permits in Sabah and Sarawak as the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad) had taken over this function in 2011 for the peninsula only.
Since the introduction of Uber in 2004, private vehicles are being used to carry fare-paying passengers. The service is still illegal until they are regulated from next month.
As such, going hard against Dego Ride service is uncalled for unless there is a need to protect Uber, Grab or taxi drivers.