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What’s it Really Like to Drive for Grab in Myanmar?

Since its arrival in March 2017 Singapore based transportation company Grab has exploded to become the leading ride hailing platform in Myanmar. In its first four months of service, the company reportedly registered over 5,000 drivers nationwide.

Since then it’s muscled out competitors Oway Ride, Hello Cabs and OK Taxi by strategic partnerships, diversifying product range and acquiring US company, Uber.

But the ride-hailing app’s Southeast Asia expansion hasn’t been without teething problems, the company was recently fined 9.5 million for a breach of anti-trust laws following its Uber merger. Settling into the Myanmar market, customers of the billion dollar company have also reported friction with local drivers still coming to grips with the ride sharing format.

As we round on the third anniversary of Grab’s arrival in the Golden Land, we thought it worth speaking to some Grab ‘driver-partners’ and find out what it’s really like to work for Southeast Asia’s first decacorn company (US $10 billion value).

No negotiations

Grab drivers aren’t born, they’re made very quickly. A prospective driver spends about an hour and a half in company offices learning how to pick up a customer, receive notifications and check payment methods—all useful and important things to know before getting behind the wheel.

If you’ve ever wondered why drivers call you after you book a ride, wonder no more: it’s part of the training. “We call to confirm the booking and to give the customer time to get ready. If no one confirms, we might cancel.”

“There’s no interview or driving test,” U Zaw Min tells me, the glint off his glasses reflecting Yangon roads flooded with heavy rain. The inside of his cab is typical of the city’s taxi drivers: a silver buddha perches smugly on the dash. Fading mugshots of local monks are pinned behind the sun visor.

U Zaw Min is an old hand. He started driving when Grab first hit Myanmar. In those days, the company issued each new employee with a smart phone and opened them a bank account. U Zaw Min was already driving a regular taxi but says that he had a hunch that going Grab presented access to an unlimited customer pool.

Two years on, he still switches back and forth between regular driving and Grab driving, depending on customer availability. “I like the safety. And I make more money driving Grab than I normally do.” Like so many of the drivers we spoke with, U Zaw Min agrees that fixed pricing also removes the headache of having to negotiate fares with passengers.

With a family to support, for U Zaw Min driving Grab is about freedom. Freedom to work the hours he wants. And he works long hours. Starting at 7am each morning and knocking off in the evening, when things slow down.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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