Cabbies, private-hire drivers allowed to continue delivering food, groceries till next September

An average of about 17,500 taxi and private-hire car drivers have carried out deliveries of food and groceries since the trial began last year.
An average of about 17,500 taxi and private-hire car drivers have carried out deliveries of food and groceries since the trial began last year.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Taxi and private-hire car drivers will be able to continue delivering food and groceries until September 2022, in an extension of a trial that began in March last year.

Current point-to-point transport regulations prohibit taxis and private-hire cars from making such deliveries, but these rules were temporarily relaxed as the Covid-19 pandemic forced many to stay at home - resulting in a surge in demand for delivery services.

Announcing the extension on Monday (Aug 30), Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said the trial has helped to supplement driver incomes, which have been hard hit as fewer people take rides during the pandemic.

"In fact, it also benefits businesses and consumers... as demand for delivery services, particularly food delivery services, increases," she said.

Since the trial began, an average of about 17,500 taxi and private-hire car drivers have carried out deliveries each month, she added.

Addressing concerns about how the trial will affect other delivery workers and impact the availability of taxis and private-hire cars, Dr Khor said there are enough point-to-point drivers to transport passengers around, especially since many are still working from home.

Asked whether the Government is considering permanently allowing taxi and private-hire cars to carry out delivery services, she said more time is needed to evaluate the benefits of the trial.

"Because the Covid-19 situation is evolving, it is better that we actually extend (the trial) because it's helpful, but on the other hand, evaluate and monitor the impact," she added.

Dr Khor also responded to the announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally that the Manpower Ministry will study how to accord more protection to workers who depend on online platforms.

While Mr Lee named only delivery workers in his Rally, taxi and private-hire car drivers are also part of this group of workers, Dr Khor said.

An advisory committee has been formed by the Manpower Ministry to look into strengthening protections for these workers, such as improving their retirement and housing adequacy, ensuring adequate work injury compensation and allowing union representation.

The Transport Ministry and Land Transport Authority will participate and contribute actively to this committee, said Dr Khor.

"We are also working with our tripartite partners, including NTUC as well as the taxi and PHC (private-hire car) operators, and, of course, the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association, to also look into how to further enhance the welfare of our taxi and private-hire car drivers," she added.