I have always been a huge fan and advocate of disruptive technology and how it can dramatically impact how we live our day to day lives and increase efficiency. Uber is just one of the many forms of disruptive technologies that exists in this rapidly evolving tech landscape we live in today. Over the past couple months, Uber has been heavily scrutinized in the news both globally and locally here in Thailand.
I agree Uber has serious issues to deal with in terms of improving their company culture and the way the business is being operated – It is currently in a terrible state. In spite of this, I see nothing wrong with the product and their value proposition – and this is what the stubborn Thai government has a problem with.
The Department of Land Transport (DLT) is refusing to allow Uber to operate in Thailand and has declared that the use of Uber is illegal. Their reasoning however is stone-age, backwards thinking and preventing innovation and disruptive technology to a nation that needs it most!
The DLT wants Uber to be regulated under the Motor Vehicle Act which was drafted over 38 years ago when the concept of “ridesharing” and smartphone technology didn’t exist. It seems like the DLT are having a tough time differentiating between the terms “Ridesharing” and “Taxi”. In addition to this, preventing the widespread use of these innovative technologies contradicts the government’s “Thailand’s 4.0 initiative” which they heavily pride themselves in. The initiative aims to make the country into a regional hub of technology and innovation. So how are they even expecting to achieve this when they can’t even get their laws up-to-date?
Another reason that the DLT is illegalizing Uber is because of ‘safety’. This is their favorite line they use with the media, even-though the “ride sharing” app has repeatedly reiterated the fact that safety features are built into their technology.
“Uber ensures things like displaying the vehicles license plates and drivers’ bio, GPS tracking of every trip, giving people the ability to share their trip information and estimate arrival time with friends and family”.
Uber’s technology is far more advanced than that of a regular taxi driver in Thailand so this whole thing about safety that the DLT loves to bring up, is a dormant argument.
Last week officials used Uber’s services (how hypocritical) posing as customers and then arrested the drivers. This was their way of clamping down on Uber. An official mentioned that one of the key motivations behind this raid was due to complaints by licensed taxi drivers and companies whose businesses had been negatively affected by Uber.
With innovative solutions and technologies rapidly on the rise, it’s inevitable that the prices for services will decrease, competition will increase and yes, as a result people will go out of business.
Why is the conventional taxi service failing? I bet you already know due to the numerous unpleasant taxi experiences you have had in Thailand. Uber drivers don’t reject passengers, try to chat them up, or overcharge and Uber cars are just a whole lot more convenient and comfortable to use.
Adapt or Die – that’s the brutal truth and the reality that local taxi drivers and apparently the DLT will have to face. How can you expect the country to develop without adjusting the laws and regulations to allow for it?