Why place so many restrictions on how cabbies operate their business?

It is interesting to learn that cabbies are only allowed to use third-party flat-fare apps if these are endorsed by taxi companies; otherwise they will be considered to be "overcharging" commuters (Comfort cabbies bumped off JustGrab; March 22).

Such flat-fare apps offer clear and precise fares before the ride and commuters can decide if they want to accept the offers beforehand, which offers transparency to our very complicated taxi-fare system.

I agree with National Taxi Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee, who said cabbies should be allowed to take bookings from any booking service to allow for a more open and competitive market.

He also mentioned that cabbies are not employed by the taxi companies and only rent their vehicles from the firms, so placing too many restrictions on them would make it seem like an employee-employer relationship.

So, if cabbies are self-employed and only renting their vehicles from taxi companies, why is there a need to dictate how cabbies operate their business or for endorsement from the companies?

Cabbies' complaints of not being able to make a decent living have been ongoing for a long time, and their unhappiness escalated when private-hire cars entered the market.

Allowing cabbies to use such third-party booking apps will level the playing field for taxi drivers and improve the commuting experience.

We should also leverage the booming sharing economy to improve our transport system to achieve the country's vision of a car-lite city.

Steven Lim Soo Huat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2018, with the headline 'Why place so many restrictions on how cabbies operate their business?'. Print Edition | Subscribe