Comfort cabbies roped in to fight illegal pickups by private-hire vehicles

SINGAPORE - In an escalating fight between incumbents and disruptors in a murky battlefield, taxi giant ComfortDelGro has instructed its cabbies to help crack down on street hails and other illegal practices by private-hire operators.

In phone messages sent out to its drivers last week, ComfortDelGro is asking its drivers to take photos of private-hire cars - such as those operated by Uber and Grab - which pull up at taxi stands.

It is also asking them to snap pictures if they see other forms of "illegal pickup anywhere else".

The message has ignited strong protests from private-hire drivers, who are prohibited by law to do street hails or taxi-stand fare pickups.

Private-hire driver Chris Koh, 50, said: "There are now more private-hire vehicles than taxis here. So is the rule on taxi stand (pickups) still relevant?"

Mr Koh, who owns and manages a portfolio of properties, said: "It is my opinion that LTA should have done a robust review of the use of taxi stands funded by public money.

"Instead of creating more of divisiveness in our society, taxi drivers and private-hire drivers should be encouraged to coexist."

ComfortDelGro was not available for comment.

The Land Transport Authority has introduced a number of regulations to safeguard the interest and safety of commuters. From this month (July), for instance, all private-hire cars must have tamper-evident decals on their windscreens. However, private-hire drivers who operate under so-called "car-pooling" services are exempt from such rules.