Forum: End use of non-approved batteries for PMDs

Two e-scooter riders waiting at the pedestrian crossing.
Two e-scooter riders waiting at the pedestrian crossing.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Singapore has finally implemented a ban on e-scooters on footpaths (E-scooters banned from footpaths amid rise in accidents, Nov 5).

However, the authorities are still taking a soft approach in tackling the issue of personal mobility device-related fires head-on.

Would the Land Transport Authority (LTA) allow a motor vehicle that had a history of exploding batteries on the road? Surely not.

When Dell and Samsung experienced fire hazards with their laptop and smartphone batteries respectively, worldwide recalls were implemented. In Dell's 2006 case, the company received only six reports of fires, yet 4.2 million laptops were recalled.

With the spate of fires, the authorities are well aware that non-UL2272-certified batteries pose a clear risk.

But they are still being sold and used. If a system had been in place to vet the scooters earlier at source, surely this risk could have been mitigated.

A whopping 80 per cent of the 100,000 registered e-scooters are not UL2272-certified (More time to dispose of e-scooters, Nov 5).

What was the point of registering the riders while knowing the risks their devices potentially pose? Couldn't an official recall be instituted?

Given the fire hazard they pose, why are we tolerating these risks to lives and property?

Handing out public notices will not stop fires from reoccurring. But proper regulation will.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force can keep putting out the fires, but LTA can actually prevent them from happening in the first place.

So why wait till April next year to institute mandatory inspections? Can LTA not inspect and license the PMDs and their batteries now, as they would with other vehicles?

In the meantime, inviting riders to surrender their non-compliant e-scooters shouldn't be the only approach.

No one seems to acknowledge that the more non-UL2272-certified e-scooters there are out there, the likelier the chances of another fire.

Yeo Han Tung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2019, with the headline 'End use of non-approved batteries for PMDs'. Print Edition | Subscribe