Retired cabby dies after accident involving taxi at Ikea Alexandra; family calls for more safety measures

Mr Oh Ah Lek, 77, (right) with his wife Madam Lam Kam Yap, 76, and their grandchildren.
Mr Oh Ah Lek, 77, (right) with his wife Madam Lam Kam Yap, 76, and their grandchildren.PHOTOS: NORMAN OH, KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The family of a 77-year-old retired cab driver, who died on Sunday (Sept 8) after an accident involving a taxi at Ikea Alexandra, is calling for safety measures there to be improved.

Mr Oh Ah Lek was hit by a Silvercab taxi driving out from Ikea Alexandra’s drop-off point as he was crossing a road last Saturday evening.

He had just finished shopping with his family at Ikea. 

His daughter, Ms Oh Li Mei, 35, told The Straits Times that she hopes there can be more safety features, such as speed bumps, near the site where the accident happened – the exit of Ikea Alexandra that leads to the main road.

The police said they were alerted to an accident involving the taxi and a pedestrian along Alexandra Road, towards Telok Blangah Road, at 7.35pm last Saturday.

The pedestrian was conscious when he was taken to National University Hospital, where he subsequently died. The police are investigating the case.

Mr Oh’s wife, Madam Lam Kam Yap, 76, told Chinese-language evening paper Lianhe Wanbao that he was trapped under the bottom of the taxi after the accident.


The road where the accident took place. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Madam Lam, a housewife, said that she and her son were crossing the road near Ikea Alexandra when they heard a loud sound, before turning around and seeing Mr Oh under the taxi.

The driver apparently did not realise what had happened until the couple’s son knocked on his taxi to alert him to the accident.

Mr Oh died seven hours later, at 3am on Sunday, after undergoing three operations.

At his wake on Wednesday evening, members of Mr Oh’s family told ST that he was a friendly and cheerful person who was actively involved in activities at a temple.

 
 
 

They said that Mr Oh enjoyed spending time with his loved ones, including his grandchildren, aged one and five.

“We are still in a state of shock,” said his son, IT manager Norman Oh, 37. 

His sister, Ms Oh, a laboratory administration staff, said tearfully: “My dad went all the way to Chinatown to order two lanterns for my kids. But now, they will never receive it.”

Mr Norman Oh said: “We were not prepared for (my father’s) death. We’re all very close to him and we love him very much.”

The elder Mr Oh had been a cabby since his 20s, and retired only when he turned 73, said his wife, Madam Lam.

Mr Oh’s funeral will be held on Saturday.

In response to ST’s queries, a spokesman from Premier Taxis, which operates Silvercab, said on Thursday that the company is “saddened by the incident”.

Premier Taxis is unable to comment on the incident as it is still being investigated by the police, the spokesman added. 

But he said that “we will render all assistance to the police should they approach us in their investigation”.

Ikea’s head of corporate communication Corinna Schuler said on Thursday that the Swedish retailer is “saddened by the unfortunate incident and would like to convey (its) condolences to the family”.

She said that Ikea is aware of the incident at the public sidewalk outside its store on Saturday and is assisting the police in their investigation.

Ms Schuler said that the store has a speed bump on the exit lane that leads from its vehicle drop-off point towards a lane that merges with a roadway from its parking lot.

She added that the company is contacting the traffic authorities to ask for support in assessing the access points and crossings that lead to Alexandra Road, and will look into suggestions for improvements.

ST has contacted the Land Transport Authority for comment.