TL;DR – Help is at hand.
The Private Hire Car industry in Singapore went through a seismic change recently. Uber threw in the towel, agreeing to a deal for Grab to acquire Uber’s operations in Southeast Asia. Chaos ensued.
At least 100 Singapore employees of ride-hailing firm Uber were told to pack up and leave on Monday morning, the day after Grab confirmed news of the acquisition. Grab has since clarified numerous times that they are committed to finding a role for Uber’s staff in Grab.
Uber drivers were also understandably worried by the merger. Uber has a very strong protection policy for drivers. Uber drivers are worried that the protection policies for drivers will be weaker after the merger. Also, after the merger, Grab apparently removed certain incentives for drivers.
Consumers are also concerned. Now that Grab is the dominant player in the industry, will it raise fares?
These concerns and worries from various parties have driven the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) to issue proposed Interim Measures Directions (“IMD”) to Grab and Uber. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) are also looking at the impact of the merger.
Minister of Education (Schools) and Second Minister of Transport Ng Chee Meng said in a Facebook post:
“The Ministry of Transport and Land Transport Authority are also reviewing the regulatory framework, to license the Private Hire Car (PHC) Booking Service Operators (BSO), to ensure that the point-to-point transport sector remains open and not dominated by one single market player.”
Minister Ng also pointed out that the Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) are also working with the service operators and the National Private Hire Vehicle Association (NPHVA) to assist affected drivers and employees.
With all these parties stepping in, and with new entrants like Ryde and GoJek announcing interest in entering the space, the interests of drivers, employees and consumers should still be taken care of even if the Grab-Uber merger go ahead.