Vaccinate E-Hailing Drivers, Cabbies Early As Passengers Flout SOPs: MP

A Grab driver told Ong Kian Ming that many passengers insist on taking their masks off in the car, but Grab drivers are forced to allow it to avoid low ratings.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming today called for taxi and e-hailing drivers to be classified as economic frontline workers for priority in Covid-19 vaccination.

Ong said a relatively healthy-looking middle-aged driver with e-hailing company Grab approached him during a Covid-19 testing programme in Taman Bukit Belimbing in his constituency last Saturday, asking for the vaccine.

“He told me that he was a Grab driver and that he is fearful for his health since he has to interact with many passengers a day including many from red zones,” Ong said in a statement.

“I asked him why he was so afraid since passengers are supposed to observe the SOPs (standard operating procedures) and wear a mask and not talk during their trip. 

“He told me that many Grab passengers don’t follow the SOPs and there is not much he can do if they insist on taking off their masks while they are in the car. Grab drivers don’t want to be given low ratings by their passengers.”

The former international trade and deputy minister urged Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to consider categorising taxi and e-hailing drivers among economic frontliners, especially in red states that are still under the Movement Control Order (MCO), like Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, and Kelantan. 

Khairy told CodeBlue in an interview last week that the government would be prioritising frontline workers in crucial economic sectors for early inoculation in Phase Two of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) that starts April 19. He cited sectors like manufacturing, construction, aviation, oil and gas, and Malaysians living in Johor who need to commute daily to Singapore for work.

The science, technology and innovation minister also said Monday that the government was looking at companies in targeted sectors that employ more than 5,000 workers in red areas reporting more than 40 coronavirus infections in the past fortnight.

Ong said today that some elderly people in his constituency were reluctant to register for Covid-19 jabs because they did not have transportation to visit a vaccination centre, based on feedback from volunteers running Covid-19 vaccine registration drives in Bangi.

“I would like to suggest that the Minister consider roping in Grab / e-hailing / taxi drivers to ferry these elderly residents (and also others who have mobility and transportation issues) to their respective vaccination centers when Phase 2 of the national vaccination rollout plan (PICK) begins on April 19, 2021.”

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