Ride-hailing giant Grab has officially launched operations in the Kingdom, entering its eighth country in Southeast Asia and a market shared with American-owned rival Uber and several already entrenched local platforms.
At its launch yesterday in Phnom Penh, representatives from the Singapore-based technology company announced the signing of two new memorandums of understanding (MoU) with both the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) and the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia, which respectively outline plans for using Grab’s data to reduce traffic congestion and limit carbon emissions in the Kingdom.
Hooi Ling Tan, who co-founded Grab five years ago, said that three of her company’s long-term goals in Cambodia include encouraging financial inclusion, lessening traffic congestion and improving road safety.
“We want to push for online banking, so we enable every single driver to have a bank account,” she said. “We also have an open traffic platform which allows us to share data on congestion, informing people when and how to travel.”
Wee Tang Yee, Grab country head for Cambodia and Thailand, added that in a country where the leading cause of death is traffic accidents caused by driver error, the company expects to invest in development projects to see roads become safer in Cambodia.
“We have heavily invested in the safety of our platform,” he said. “The Grab accident rate is five times lower than the average in each country where we operate, and every ride is covered by personal insurance.”
He explained that while Grab’s car-hailing service GrabCar and online payment platform GrabPay will only be available in Phnom Penh for now the company expects to expand in the near future.
“We have been very compliant with local tax laws and anti-corruption laws,” he said. “We look forward to expanding our services across the country soon.”
Sng Su Min, Grab’s regional head of communications, noted that the company could be interested in eventually conducting a “mapathon” which would plot out existing roads, first in main cities and eventually in the provinces, to prepare a complete map of travel routes in the Kingdom.
“Our interest is in increasing ease of transportation in this country,” she said, adding that this goal of improving roads and quality of life was inherent in the signed agreement with the MPWT.
Sun Chanthol, minister of public works and transport, expressed the belief that the use of Grab’s technology would prove beneficial to the Kingdom in the long run.
“We recognise the importance of embracing ride sharing technology in improving the transportation sector,” he said. “It is important to work with the private sector to improve on road safety.”
He added that Grab had currently signed on 500 drivers to serve Phnom Penh, and remarked that he hoped they would limit the need for personal ownership of motorbikes and cars, which contribute to congestion.
“We are happy Grab is here because they will play by the rules and respect the government,” he said, in an apparent reference to Uber, which has been accused of flouting regulations and has been banned from a handful of markets. “Hopefully they can sign an IPO [initial public offering] soon, before their main competitor,” Chanthol said.