Logistics company Dart has finally been given a provisional permit to operate peer-to-peer ride-sharing services, the Ministry of Communications (MinComm) disclosed on Monday.

The startup launched in May 2017 with its app-based taxi-booking service, but the plan to introduce a ride-sharing service hit a snag last August due to a delay in authorisation from the government, said Legislative Council (LegCo) member YB Siti Rozaimeriyanty Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman.

Speaking during a LegCo session yesterday, she said Dart has invested approximately $250,000 to develop their technology and business, which could provide job opportunities for licensed drivers. 

She urged the ministry to rectify any delays so that startups with high potential would not go out of business.

“I hope the Ministry of Communications, as well as relevant stakeholders, will always be prepared to make swift and effective decisions, especially if there is potential for private sector companies to help our country’s economic growth,” said YB Rozaimeriyanty.

In response, the Minister of Communications said while Dart has just been given a provisional permit by the Land Transport Department to operate ride-sharing, there is still need for more research and coordination with the ministry’s public transport policies.

YB Abdul Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof added that the ministry is currently reviewing the effectiveness and progress of taxi services, as well as demand from the public.

Brunei implemented a metered taxi system in September 2016 in order to regulate fares, but public feedback said taxi availability was limited and fares were still pricey.

“The ministry is aware of the need to fill these gaps with proposals from the private sector, to provide services that can provide greater options for the public,” the minister said.

Dart founder and CEO Zul’Amali Idris said the green light from MinComm was welcome news but it was not without significant lobbying on their part.

“The delay had several negative effects [on our business] including losing drivers, public perception and almost killing a small business startup with limited resources,” he told The Scoop.

“However Dart will overcome the challenges, as we have so far persevered. However, we cannot claim success yet… We know there is much more work to do on all parts including marketing and building further trust with the customers… The market is relentless and the true challenge is yet to come.”

This story was updated at 10.32pm on March 20, 2018, to reflect the addition of quotes from Dart’s CEO.