S'pore carpool drivers need pay at least S$25 for weekly swab test as they aren't employed by platforms

If you want to carpool, you got to pay a small price.

Belmont Lay | December 15, 2021, 12:35 PM

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Some GrabHitch drivers have expressed annoyance and disappointment after receiving an in-app notification on Dec. 9 reminding them to undergo supervised Covid-19 testing that they have to pay for themselves, CNA reported.

Why the unhappiness?

The unhappiness stems from having to go for unsubsidised and supervised antigen rapid tests (ART) at Ministry of Health-approved private clinics that cost at least S$25 each time.

Carpool drivers don't qualify for subsidised testing

This is in contrast to private-hire drivers with a vocational licence (PDVL) who just need to utilise the subsidised self-test ART kits.

Once a week for vaccinated, twice a week for unvaccinated

The Grab notification said vaccinated carpool drivers not holding PDVL will need to undergo a non-subsidised weekly ART, while those who are unvaccinated need to do so twice weekly.

The test results from the approved test providers need to be shared with Grab.

Subsidies in place but carpool drivers don't qualify

This is part of the VoRT/FET-RRT (Vaccinate or Regular Testing/ Fast and Easy Testing Regular Routine Testing) regime, which applies to higher-risk settings like F&B, as well as gym and fitness studios.

Under this VoRT/FET-RRT regime announced on June 18, tests are subsidised by the government.

Employees must take weekly ARTs at quick test centres or while supervised by employers, either on-site or virtually.

But carpool drivers are not employees.

What are carpool drivers then?

Carpooling is an incidental service, and not an essential one.

The onus of getting drivers tested is on carpool operators.

The Land Transport Authority said carpool operators, such as Grab and Ryde, are required to ensure that their carpool drivers are tested before they can perform carpool trips through the platforms.

LTA told CNA that the government has prioritised the subsidy of test kits for frontliners that provide "essential services" to the public.

Frontliners include licenced taxi and private-hire car drivers, bus captains, and train drivers.

LTA elaborated: "In contrast, carpooling services are incidental, with fares charged on cost-recovery basis."

Carpool drivers, LTA said, do not depend on carpool services for their livelihoods, are not required to have vocational licences, and can only provide up to two carpool trips per day.

LTA said carpool operators can provide subsidies for the cost of testing.

Rule for carpool drivers to get tested kicked in Nov. 22

The rule kicked in since Nov. 22, when commercial carpooling services were allowed to resume following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

These services are offered via licensed carpooling operators, such as GrabHitch and RydePool.

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