No ‘unIslamic’ worries for Dego Ride, motorcycle taxi services for riders/passengers of same gender since 2016, says founder

Ida Lim
Dego Ride founder Nabil Feisal Bhamadhaj said the motorcycle taxi service was started off in 2016 with local sensitivities already taken into account, based on extensive consultation and feedback from the market. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Malaysia’s first motorcycle taxi service Dego Ride addressed the potential sensitivity about men and women sharing a motorcycle together when it first launched in 2016, its founder said.

Nabil Feisal Bhamadhaj, CEO of local firm Dego which operates Dego Ride, said the company was already aware of views similar to those of the Selangor mufti who on Thursday said that it would be “unIslamic” for two individuals of different genders with no family ties to share motorcycle rides.

“We consulted with everyone back in 2016,” he told Malay Mail when contacted, adding that those consulted included ministries, non-governmental organisations, community leaders such as MPs and muftis, as well as customers.

In fact, the Dego Ride service which began in late 2016 only allowed motorcyclists to pick up passengers of the same gender as them, Nabil explained.

“Another mufti advised then, too. This is what we have learnt since 2016 and we applied it right away so we have a strong base of women who already know about Dego.

“The reason behind this is we were aware that the local market was sensitive about this. The majority said they wanted women to ferry female passengers and men to ferry male passengers.

“This is different from Indonesia which is also a majority Islamic dominant country but that’s where sensitivities lie within different countries and we have to build something that fits the needs of the country,” he said.

Nabil said consultations continued after the introduction of Dego Ride with the arrangement for same-gender motorcycle trips, also confirming that the arrangement applies across the board to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

“We then continued consulting as many parties as possible just to validate the feedback that we got from the market and the customers, the riders themselves. This was an effort between us and also the feedback that we gathered from our own ecosystem, and I am glad that our communications channels then was — and I hope still is — strong,” he added.

Dego Ride services are for shared rides on motorcycles but is currently limited to three kilometres; it is accessible via www.degoapp.com or the Dego mobile app with options for either delivery services or “pickups” for rides.

When asked how the Dego Ride service carries out the same gender arrangement, Nabil said Dego’s riders will validate passengers and their account by contacting them after a trip is booked.

Nabil said Dego Ride's riders are required to provide quality helmets meeting the SIRIM standard to passengers. — Picture via Facebook/Cempedak Cheese

What about safety?

Nabil’s company pioneered motorcycle taxi services through Dego Ride in late 2016, but this was later suspended after the Malaysian government declared it illegal in 2017 due to the high risk of fatal road accidents involving motorcyclists.

Dego Ride’s motorcycle taxi service has since been revived after the government’s agreement in principle this week on the use of motorcycle for the ferrying of passengers.

Addressing concerns about safety, Nabil said safety measures were already in place to ensure a safe ride.

“Since 2016, we learnt a lot with regards to safety requirements so it’s not something that is new for us,” he said.

“We have requirements such as age of vehicle, spot checks on vehicles for signal/front/back lights etc, past records requirements of the rider—for example, no accidents record, minimum three years of riding,” he said.

Nabil said Dego Ride’s riders are also required to provide quality helmets meeting the SIRIM standard to passengers, while insurance coverage for third party and accidents are provided for both the riders and passengers.

Real-time tracking is also available since 2016 for trips using Dego Ride, he confirmed.

He said the three kilometre limit for Dego Ride trips is for “safety concerns” and is also a litmus test of the actual distance of the “last mile” in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Penang, noting that this distance cap can be easily increased in the future.

Motorcycle taxi services such as Dego Ride have been cited as a solution for the first-mile or last-mile connectivity needs of Malaysians, especially when travelling between their actual destinations and public transport hubs such as bus stations or train stations with distances that are considered too far to walk.

Confirming that payments for Dego Ride trips are currently by cash only, Nabil said “We plan to introduce cashless at a later time. Right now we will just go ahead with cash because we know that our market is predominantly cash-centric.”

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