oBike given more time to remove bicycles

Employees of a recycling company unloading oBike two-wheelers meant for recycling from a lorry yesterday. As of Wednesday, the bike-sharing company had removed about 1,000 bicycles.
Employees of a recycling company unloading oBike two-wheelers meant for recycling from a lorry yesterday. As of Wednesday, the bike-sharing company had removed about 1,000 bicycles.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Troubled firm has till end of month to clear all 70,000 bikes after missing July 4 deadline

Bike-sharing company oBike has been given more time to remove its two-wheelers from public spaces.

It has until the end of the month to remove some 70,000 bicycles, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday, one day after the expiry of its initial deadline.

An LTA spokesman said the extension was given because oBike, which is being wound up, had made "preliminary efforts" in its commitment to remove the bikes.

It has progressively appointed three vendors and, as of July 4, removed about 1,000 bicycles, the spokesman said. "LTA will monitor the situation closely and step in to remove the remaining bicycles only if oBike fails to do so by the end of this month," she added.

Town councils told The Straits Times that although oBikes' two-wheelers can still be found in their neighbourhoods, the number has decreased over the last few days.

A Chua Chu Kang Town Council spokesman said about two-thirds of them are gone from the estates under its charge, most of which were removed in the last two days.

On Wednesday, The Straits Times saw a truck hired by a logistics firm picking up oBike's silver-and-yellow two-wheelers in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3.

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council chairman Zainal Sapari said he had noticed a "visible decrease" in the number of oBikes in the estate.

Others, such as the Marine Parade and Bishan-Toa Payoh town councils, have yet to see a noticeable difference, however.

Liquidators from business advisory firm FTI Consulting have been appointed to handle the winding up of oBike.

The firm said yesterday that Mr Joshua James Taylor and Mr Yit Chee Wah are the provisional liquidators.

They will be responsible for recovering the company's assets and settling claims made against the company.

oBike's sudden closure left users wondering if they would get back their deposits, which amount to $6.3 million, according to oBike's chairman, Mr Shi Yi. Users had paid deposits of up to $49 each.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said yesterday it would work closely with the LTA to see if the liquidation process poses any obstacles to oBike keeping its promise to refund users.

"Consumers are advised to wait for an update from the company or the liquidators on the refund process before filing for a refund," said Case executive director Loy York Jiun.

It has received 1,096 complaints from users asking for refunds.

In a statement, Mr Taylor and Mr Yit said: "The provisional liquidators are aware of the media reports surrounding the refunds requested by deposit holders."

They said they will be liaising with oBike's director, as well as shareholders and founders, on whether refunds can be made.

Further updates will be given to users in due course, they said, adding that questions can be e-mailed to obike@fticonsulting. com.

The LTA said it will work with Case and the Personal Data Protection Commission - as well as the liquidators and oBike's global office - to ensure that oBike exits the market responsibly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'oBike given more time to remove bicycles'. Print Edition | Subscribe