National Taxi Association urges government to allow taxi drivers to deliver goods

The National Taxi Association (NTA) has on Wednesday urged the government allow taxi drivers to deliver goods via a trial, according to a report by Todayonline. 

Straits Times reported on yesterday that LTA has declared that private-hire vehicles and taxis are meant to take passengers for “hire and reward” – and cannot be used only for the sole purpose of goods delivery. However, passengers who hire them may carry goods.

Members of Parliament (MPs) and drivers had also called for the LTA to review the regulation, so as to maximise the use of existing vehicles to make deliveries.

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The “archaic” rule contradicts the Singapore government’s call for citizens to embrace disruptive technology and the gig economy. Some also said that drivers should not be denied a means to earn extra income. 

NTA, together with taxi operators, would soon be proposing a “regulatory sandbox” to allow taxi drivers to make deliveries, said executive adviser Ang Hin Kee. This approach would allow for room to experiment before making any changes to existing regulations.

Ang also noted that this proposal is line with the government's push towards a “car-lite” society. The NTA executive adviser is also a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio group representation constituency (GRC).

“If we don’t allow private-hire car or taxi drivers to do these deliveries, what it basically means is these deliveries have to be done by somebody else … instead of using the same driver (and) car to do multiple work,” he explained. Currently, there is an “abundant” number of private-hire cars and taxis, and therefore the concern that there would be insufficient vehicles to meet commuter demand may no longer be such a “critical issue”, Ang added.

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Fellow MP (West Coast GRC) Patrick Tay also told Todayonline that said laws need to be reviewed constantly to keep pace with disruptive technologies, where new forms of work would emerge. “Whatever that helps enhance the livelihood of working people, and if it doesn’t cause any inconvenience, they should be given the latitude to do so,” said Tay, who was also the assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Desmond Choo, NTUC’s industry transformation and productivity director, agreed that tapping existing modes of transport to deliver goods is a more efficient option. “Having separate categories of vehicles for specific tasks might mean that we are not optimising our resources,” he added.

According to a report by Todayonline, some freelance drivers who were working with ride-hailing companies like Grab and Uber, doing deliveries for Amazon’s Prime Now service. Amazon had also booked taxis for deliveries, albeit with a passenger on board.