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LETTER | Increasingly imperative to allow motorcycle e-hailing service

LETTER | With traffic congestion increasingly worse by the day, drivers and passengers will be wasting prolonged hours in their vehicles and arriving late, affecting employee morale and productivity. If this were to continue unabated, the health and career of frequent latecomers will be ruined.

A major transaction or crucial opportunity could be dropped when one is late for an important meeting or business appointment. If this were to happen, it could result in a corporate crisis that would have a huge impact on the profitability or even survivability of a company.

For travellers, failing to arrive at the terminal on time to catch a bus, train or plane could amount to losing all the monies paid for transport, accommodation, and other reservations. And to proceed to the next destination, one must go through the hassle of rebooking all arrangements.

Even for those who managed to arrive just on time, having caught in chock-a-block traffic may produce a surge of hormones that cause blood pressure to shoot up, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke. If so, the victims together with their loved ones will undergo untold suffering.

But the powers that be are sitting pretty, preferring to err on the side of caution. Last November, Deputy Transport Minister Henry Sum Agong gave a reply in Parliament that motorbike e-hailing services will not be allowed because of 64 percent of road fatalities involved motorcyclists.

Then, it was expedient to cite grim statistics. But now, the Transport Ministry (MOT) cannot disregard the worsening traffic jams that affect the lives and health of millions of road users.  As such, MOT ought to introduce new measures to make motorcycling safer in our country.

Motorcyclists carrying pillion riders tend to be more careful than those riding solo, whether they are transporting a family member, relative or friend. Unlike food or parcel delivery riders, those carrying customers will be on their best behaviour as they do not wish to get any complaints.

But the authorities have nothing to gain by allowing motorcycle e-hailing services, unlike big projects that involve millions, if not billions, of ringgit. Moreover, it requires tireless efforts to work out many effective measures so that motorcycle e-hailing services could be offered safely.

Adopt best practices

To ensure the highest standards are set for motorcycle e-hailing service in Malaysia, the government could adopt the best practices found in neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, consider introducing the measures listed below and add more where necessary.

  1. Motorcycles for e-hailing service are to be inspected initially and annually by e-hailing firms managing the apps to ensure that motorbikes are safe for pillion riders, the seat is comfortable, number plates comply with regulation, horn and lamps are in working order, factory-fitted exhaust pipe with a silencer, etc

  2. E-hailing firms to keep records of inspections and photos of motorcycles inspected.

  3. E-hailing firms to conduct and keep records of face-to-face interviews and onboarding. And to demonstrate how the crash helmets by pillion riders can remain hygienic.

  4. The minimum age for e-hailing motorcyclists is 21, with at least B2 licence (up to 250cc).

  5. E-hailing motorcyclists are free of criminal records and without unpaid summonses including notifications of traffic offences.

  6. A special category of public service vehicle (PSV) licence be introduced for motorcycle e-hailing service to be renewed annually after passing a medical test including for drugs.

  7. Personal accident insurance (PAI) cover for one unnamed passenger to insure a pillion rider for RM100,000 for death or permanent total disablement, and up to RM10,000 for medical expenses. (This PAI cover is superior to “Legal Liability to Passengers” for taxis and buses that require injured passengers to sue the driver at fault and usually takes many years for compensation to be awarded by a court. PAI pays out speedily without having to establish who was at fault).

  8. A motorcyclist’s helmet is fitted with a weatherproof dashboard video camera (dashcam) to indicate whether the motorcycle had been ridden carefully and also to record traffic violations committed by other motorcyclists and motorists.

  9. Records of traffic offences could be submitted to the traffic police for notifications of traffic offences to be issued and sent by post. E-hailing motorcyclists are to be paid at a reasonable rate for records of evidence submitted.

  10. With e-hailing motorcyclists assisting in surveillance, they will deter other motorcyclists and motorists from committing driving offences such as disobeying traffic lights and hogging yellow boxes at busy intersections.

  11. E-hailing motorcyclists are not allowed to accept new bookings until they have dropped off pillion riders. It is common to see delivery riders looking or using their phones while riding as they are often busy checking and accepting new bookings.

Allowing e-hailing services with all safety measures in place would greatly improve road safety, and video cameras of e-hailing motorcyclists could also deter snatch thefts, making our streets safer. This invaluable service helps the public to arrive on time and provides jobs for many.

Since 2019, new vehicle registrations, excluding motorcycles, averaged 601,671 annually. This meant that every day for the past 12 years, an average of 1,648 new vehicles comprising cars, SUVs, MPVs, pickups, vans, buses, lorries and trailers were added to our roads.

While Thailand and Indonesia are racing ahead on many fronts, including motorcycle e-hailing, we are still saddled with the old mindset of banning things that are difficult but possible to control.

And as long as the authorities are dragging their feet, the rakyat continues to suffer.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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