Uber hires govt-ac­cred­ited drivers in Myan­mar

New Straits Times - - Business -

YANGON: Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc is only hir­ing gov­ern­men­tac­cred­ited taxi drivers in Myan­mar, said a re­gional ex­ec­u­tive, a move that will al­low it to avoid the le­gal hur­dles that have dogged the firm across Asia in one of the re­gion’s last fron­tier mar­kets.

This part­ner­ship with lo­cal taxi drivers and their unions was unique to Myan­mar, said Sam Bool, Uber’s ex­pan­sion gen­eral man­ager for Southeast Asia, as ser­vices be­gan yes­ter­day in the small but po­ten­tially lu­cra­tive mar­ket where Southeast Asian ri­val Grab and lo­cal ser­vice providers are go­ing strong.

“Hav­ing the gov­ern­ment sup­port from day one was pretty pow­er­ful,” said Bool. “Drivers know we are fully com­pli­ant with ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions. That does grease the wheels.”

Uber, which in many parts of the world signs on any­one with a car as a driver, ap­pears to be fol­low­ing Grab’s op­er­at­ing model in Myan­mar, a coun­try of more than 50 mil­lion peo­ple emerg­ing from decades of mil­i­tary rule.

Dur­ing its March launch, here, Grab said it was work­ing with a small group of taxi drivers and would in­crease its scale grad­u­ally.

Uber has long had a rep­u­ta­tion as an ag­gres­sive and un­apolo­getic startup. The San Fran­cis­cobased firm is in con­flict with the taxi in­dus­try all over the world, and its ser­vices have been halted in sev­eral coun­tries over a raft of reg­u­la­tory con­cerns.

While In­done­sia is Southeast Asia’s big­gest ride ser­vices mar­ket, the growth in Myan­mar’s mo­bile ser­vices mar­ket is too good to ig­nore.

Com­pe­ti­tion is strong: in ad­di­tion to Grab, there are at least two ride-hail­ing start-ups — Hello Cabs and Oway Ride. Reuters

AP PIC

Uber be­gan its ser­vices in Myan­mar, yes­ter­day, where ri­val Grab and other lo­cal ser­vice providers are al­ready go­ing strong.

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