'African' driver in online video is a Singapore PR and approved to ferry passengers: Uber

Uber told The Straits Times that the man has been a permanent resident for 15 years and started driving for Uber about seven months ago.
Uber told The Straits Times that the man has been a permanent resident for 15 years and started driving for Uber about seven months ago.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK/SGPUPDATE

SINGAPORE - An online video purportedly showing a 60-year-old "African" man driving illegally for ride-hailing app Uber has turned out to be untrue.

A spokesman from Uber clarified on Tuesday (Sept 26) that the individual in question is a permanent resident (PR) in Singapore, and has been approved by the company to ferry passengers using its platform.

Uber also told The Straits Times that the man - whose name and nationality were not revealed - has been a PR for 15 years and started driving for Uber about seven months ago.

Under the Land Transport Authority's regulations, PRs and foreign work pass holders can apply to become private-hire drivers but they must be employees of a company offering chauffeured services. ST understands that the driver meets this requirement.

Over the weekend, a video depicting an exchange between an Uber passenger and his driver surfaced online. In the minute-long clip, the passenger demands to see his driver's PR identity card, and asks whether he is from Africa, likely inferring this from the latter's accent.

Apparently unhappy that his driver took a wrong turn, the passenger also asks why he came to Singapore to drive for Uber. "You just came in to Singapore for a week... You from Africa, right?You came here for how long? One week? Two weeks?" the passenger asked.

The driver replied: "People can make mistake, this is driving, Singapore roads are difficult... I didn't come here to drive Uber. I set up two companies here, I'm already retired."

In a final exchange before the video ends, the passenger accuses the driver of having been in Singapore for only two days. The driver says in exasperation: "Okay. I came (to Singapore) yesterday."

The video has been shared on several social media websites, with netizens expressing outrage about why a foreigner was allowed to drive for Uber.

Uber said it took such incidents seriously, adding that it will take the necessary actions, including removing the passenger or driver from its platform, if either party was found to have violated its rules of use.

"We would like to reiterate that Uber does not discriminate in facilitating flexible earning opportunities. Uber also reaffirms Singapore's multicultural society," the spokesman said in a statement.