PMD riders turning to MPs for help
Nee Soon GRC MPs K. Shanmugam and Louis Ng meet with residents to discuss concerns regarding ban
Like a bolt out of the blue, an e-scooter ban on footpaths here was announced in Parliament on Monday and kicked in the very next day.
The move was necessary to make pedestrians feel safe again, Senior Minister of State Lam Pin Min told Parliament, but it left the 100,000-strong personal mobility devices (PMDs) community, especially those who depend on them to make a living, dead in their tracks.
While there may be those who have stopped riding their e-scooter on pavements, some have chosen to disregard the new rule, while others have turned to their MPs for help.
As of 5pm yesterday, the Land Transport Authority has issued over 360 warnings since the ban.
Users have also tried to circumvent the ban by riding on the grass verges next to footpaths, but the National Parks Board warned that this could lead to a fine of up to $5,000.
On Tuesday evening, about 30 PMD riders gathered at Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam's Meet-the-People Session (MPS) in Yishun to express their concerns regarding the ban.
The Nee Soon GRC MP said on Facebook yesterday that he met with three of them in his branch office and asked to meet the others in an open area outside.
"I said we understood their position, but I would also convey their views to (the Ministry of Transport), and to Cabinet.
"The riders were appreciative. It was a good, civil meeting. I also told them that I will call for another meeting," he wrote.
Fellow Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng told The New Paper about 10 residents had e-mailed him directly or came to his MPS on Monday for help after he made a Facebook post asking Nee Soon East residents affected by the ban to reach out.
Ms Lee Bee Wah, also a Nee Soon GRC MP, made a similar appeal on Facebook.
Mr Ng said he is looking into providing interim financial assistance to food delivery PMD riders from needy families.
The money will come from an existing welfare fund raised through private donations.
Ms Lee said she is talking to delivery riders and parents who use PMDs to take their children to school about how they can switch to other modes of transport or use the cycling path network in Yishun.
"Where necessary, I will supplement it with community resources, for example, helping to buy bicycles, or financial help," she told TNP.
On Monday, Dr Lam said the Government is working with the three major food delivery companies - GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo - to convert PMD delivery personnel to use motorcycles or bicycles.
Noting that less than 30 per cent of food deliveries are made using PMDs, Dr Lam said the authorities will work with the companies and Workforce Singapore to assist those unable to convert to another transport mode to find alternative jobs.
Grab was hit hardest by the ban as most of the 7,000 food delivery PMD riders here are believed to be working for it. It plans to engage the Government on possibly allowing those who have displayed responsible riding behaviour to continue using e-scooters on footpaths under certain conditions for delivery.
Transport economist Walter Theseira said helping affected riders find new jobs is crucial.
"Gig economy industries have provided a lot of income for more economically marginalised Singaporeans," the Nominated MP said.
"If we take it away like this, we have to figure out how to get them employment."
He also suggested extending the early disposal incentive scheme to compliant PMDs, as there may not be much value for some riders to own them now.
The $100 incentive is offered only to owners of registered, non-UL2272 certified PMDs who hand over their devices before the year end.
The PMD issue was not something the Government can simply enforce its way out of, the associate professor said.
"If we have a policy and lots of people flout it every day, what does it say about the rule of law? You can't really let it go on."