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S’pore govt should buy back e-scooters to help those affected by ban

Offering the option to refund the registration fee is a small first step.

Martino Tan | November 8, 03:34 pm

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A lot has been said about the ban on e-scooters and personal mobility devices (PMDs) on footpaths in Singapore.

But at the same time, not enough has been said as it has only been three days since the ban kicked in on Nov. 5, 2019, and those affected are still voicing out.

Even though the ban has taken effect, more can still be done to lessen the impact of such a drastic policy change overnight, given that Singapore has 100,000 registered PMD users, and many more unregistered ones.

How about offering a one-time buy-back of devices and a refund of registration fee?

The government can help.

It can provide quick fixes to lessen the financial impact for the delivery riders caused by the sudden announcement.

First, the government can offer the option of a refund to delivery riders who had to pay a S$20 registration fee to register their devices.

Online registration was free until March 31, 2019.

Those who registered from April 1 had to pay the registration fee.

At last count, more than 85,000 e-scooters were registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) before the June 30 deadline.

The Straits Times reported that there are about 100,000 registered e-scooters in Singapore, and about 7,000 people working for the three major food delivery companies — Deliveroo, GrabFood and Foodpanda — use e-scooters to carry out deliveries.

Second, the government can offer the delivery riders money with the option of disposing their UL2272-certified e-scooters.

This is due to some of the PMD owners’ concerns about not being able to pay off the instalments on their PMDs.

Such an approach will be similar to how non-UL2272-certified e-scooters have been disposed.

Third, the government can, through the Ministry of Social and Family Development, offer financial support and/ or job placements for delivery riders who are suddenly displaced by the ban.

For instance, they can offer quicker placements for riders getting motorcycle licenses.

The government has perhaps done right by the majority of non-PMD-using population in keeping pathways safe for all Singaporeans.

But they can be quicker and more responsive in assisting this group of Singaporeans with genuine concerns.

Background

The food delivery riders who use e-scooters for work have been quick in informing the political leaders about the huge financial impact a sudden policy change has caused them.

It has been only three days since the rules banning the use of electric scooters on footpaths were put in place on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and e-scooter-reliant food delivery personnel have been showing up at the Meet-the-People Sessions (MPs) on consecutive days since Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, some 30 delivery riders met with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in the Chong Pang ward of Nee Soon GRC.

About 30 PMD riders approach Shanmugam in Chong Pang en masse about ban

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, about 50 riders tried to look for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Teck Ghee ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

About 50 PMD food delivery riders show up at Ang Mo Kio Meet-the-People session to seek recourse

On Thursday, Nov. 7, about 50 riders spoke to Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee in his Jurong Spring ward of Jurong GRC.

About 50 food delivery PMD riders turn up at Meet-the-People session in Jurong

The ban on e-scooters from footpaths came less than a day after Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min made the announcement in Parliament on Nov. 4.

The ban applies to e-scooters for now, which is defined by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as motorised PMDs with handlebars, but is expected to be extended to other PMDs, such as hoverboards and electric unicycles by the first quarter of 2020.

From Jan. 1, 2020, a “zero-tolerance” approach will be taken, and those caught riding an e-scooter on footpaths are likely to receive more than just a warning.

LTA dishes out warnings to over 100 PMD users on the first day of footpath ban

Two Ministers encountered the plight of delivery riders personally

As it stands, two ministers, through their Meet-the-People Sessions, have encountered the plight of the delivery riders first-hand.

Shanmugam said on his Facebook post that the riders have “explained their position, their difficulties”, and he would convey their views to the Ministry of Transport, and to the Cabinet.

Lee told CNA that food delivery riders who use PMDs for work are Singaporeans with “genuine concerns”.

About 50 food delivery PMD riders turn up at Meet-the-People session in Jurong

Lee added that the riders’ concerns included not being able to pay off the instalments on their PMDs and being unable to obtain e-bikes or other vehicles that would allow them to continue working.

Delivery riders came out with suggestions to cope with sudden announcement

When Mothership.sg spoke to the delivery riders, some suggested extending the park connector networks first before implementing the ban on footpaths.

I spoke to PMD delivery riders at an Ang Mo Kio MPS. No, they’re not young punks.

Others suggested imposing age restrictions on those who purchase or ride PMDs instead of a complete ban.

About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the words of George Orwell & William F. Buckley Jr., & the music of the Beatles.

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