LTA: Murderers, rapists barred from PDVL for life
LTA on how it assesses ex-convicts applying for licence to drive private-hire cars
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) considers the nature of the offences committed by former convicts when assessing their applications to become a private-hire car driver.
"This is done out of concern for the safety of passengers," it said.
Applicants convicted of extremely serious offences, such as rape, murder or kidnapping, will be barred from obtaining the Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence (PDVL) for life.
Those who committed less serious offences like housebreaking and cheating are barred for "a few years" from the date of conviction, after which their applications will be considered if they have reformed and not gone back to crime.
LTA did not specify the number of years they will be barred. The New Paper understands this will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Offences that do not pose any danger to the physical safety of the public, such as forgery, do not attract any debarment.
LTA announced in March that private-hire car drivers must apply for the PDVL by June 30 this year or they will not be allowed to continue driving for their companies.
Last week, LTA said it received 39,000 applications, of which 36,000 had been processed and 33,000 approved to attend the PDVL course.
About 1,300 were rejected because of failed background checks or for not having the minimum two years' Class 3/3A driving experience.
Bearing in mind that the private hires' fleet is larger than taxis' now, stringent background checks for the PDVL is necessary.National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng
National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng told TNP that the background checks are necessary to ensure the safety of passengers.
He said: "Bearing in mind that the private hires' fleet is larger than taxis' now, stringent background checks for the PDVL is necessary.
"Before, Grab and Uber had no system to conduct strict background checks on their drivers, but now the system has been put in place by LTA."
An ex-convict, who wanted to be known only as Mr Mohamed, 36, was rejected by the LTA last week because of his "previous adverse records".
He told TNP that he was jailed 20 days last year for a 2011 cheating offence. He had been driving for both Grab and Uber since 2015, and earns more than $3,000 a month.
He said: "I have been frustrated and stressed since I was rejected. I have no more motivation to work. Cheating is not even driving-related."
Another ex-convict, who wanted to be known as Mr Anthony, 32, was also rejected.
He was jailed for consumption of drugs three times, with the last one in 2012.
He was released last October and has been driving for both Grab and Uber since, earning about $4,000 a month.
Mr Anthony said: "I've already turned over a new leaf. Driving is my full-time job. Everything has been going smoothly and now my job is going to be taken away from me.
"I relapsed a few times in the past because I had nothing to do. Grab and Uber gave me the opportunity to focus on work."
Mr Mohamed and Mr Anthony have sought help from their MPs to appeal to the LTA.
TNP understands that LTA assesses drug offences case-by-case, like other offences.
A Grab spokesman told TNP it was doing its best to support its affected driver-partners.
She said: "We are actively reaching out to affected driver-partners and extending help to those who wish to have their cases reviewed."
When contacted, Uber declined to comment.
TNP understands that in Uber and Grab's registration forms, drivers will have to declare any criminal records, and that Grab will assess the seriousness of the offences case-by-case.
Checks show that the criteria for approving ex-offenders applying for the PDVL are similar to those for the Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence.