The deadline requiring personal mobility devices (PMDs) to be certified safe has been brought forward by six months to July 1 next year after a spate of PMD-related fires.
Also, all e-scooters will have to go for mandatory inspections from April 1 next year to ensure that they meet specified standards, including weight and speed.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min, who announced these fire-safety measures in Parliament yesterday, also said the Government will spend $50 million on improving infrastructure for these active mobility machines.
The plans include widening footpaths, installing clear warning signs and building speed-regulating strips on footpaths at selected hot spots where accidents occur, he said.
Singapore has about 90,000 registered e-scooters, and around 90 per cent of them do not comply with the UL2272 standard.
The UL2272 standard is a set of safety requirements covering the electrical drivetrain system of PMDs, including the battery system. Devices have to undergo rigorous tests at accredited testing centres before being certified.
Elaborating on the earlier deadline for PMDs to meet this standard, Dr Lam said it was necessary as all the PMD-related fires involved non-certified devices and possibly inappropriate charging practices.
The situation is worsening. Last year, there were 52 such fires, but there have already been 49 in the first six months of this year.
In one case on July 20, a 40-year-old man died in hospital two days after he was rescued from a fire at his Bukit Batok flat. The fire was linked to three burnt e-scooters found in the flat.
Besides fires, there were 228 accidents involving PMDs on public paths in 2017 and last year.
Many of the MPs who highlighted the hazards of PMDs also called for measures to ensure the safety of pedestrians and riders.
Dr Lam acknowledged their concerns, but said it was not feasible to impose the measures immediately.
"As many Singaporeans rely on PMDs for their livelihoods and their commuting needs, we think this is the earliest reasonable deadline,'' he said, referencing the July 1 deadline next year.
"This will also give retailers time to bring in sufficient stock of UL2272-certified devices."
The decision requiring all devices to be UL2272-certified was announced in September last year.
And since July 1 this year, retailers have been banned from selling non-certified devices.
However, users who had registered their devices by end-June this year were originally allowed to use them on public paths until Dec 31 next year.
But from April 1 next year, it is mandatory for all devices to be inspected for, among other things, a top speed of 25kmh and a maximum weight of 20kg.
Existing users will be notified and scheduled to have their devices checked at stipulated centres. New owners registering their devices from April next year will have to get them inspected before their registration is approved.
The Government is also looking at ways to encourage users to dispose of their non-certified devices early, in a safe and convenient way, Dr Lam said. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will give implementation details later.
Enforcement and education are also key to ensuring the safe use of PMDs, he added. The LTA has been beefing up its enforcement team, increasing it from 50 in May this year to about 200 by year's end.
Errant retailers will be severely punished, and 12 have been taken to task, said Dr Lam.
Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) asked for a temporary ban on the use of PMDs in the wake of the fires.
Dr Lam said he had thought of a ban, but PMDs have benefited tens of thousands of Singaporeans and most users are responsible.
"I am convinced that Singaporeans can be taught to use PMDs responsibly, as they have with bicycles," he said.