Greater regulation of Grab, Uber in the works: Ng Chee Meng

Nicholas Yong
Senior Correspondent
This aerial photo taken upon landing in Singapore shows cars and trucks on a motorway seen from the air on August 4, 2015. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Singapore government plans to review its regulatory approach towards ride-hailing apps such as Grab and Uber as the private-hire car industry rapidly evolves, said Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng in Parliament on Wednesday (7 March).

Speaking during the Committee of Supply (COS) debate on Budget 2018, Ng said that his ministry will study how to structure the industry and license private-hire car (PHC) booking operators.

“Licensing will give the government a broader range of regulatory levers” to ensure that the industry grows in a way that meets the needs of commuters and drivers, said Ng.

“(The government) must make sure that commuters and drivers continue to have options and that no single market player will dominate the industry to the detriment of commuters and drivers,” he added.

Ng, who is also a Member of Parliament for Pasir-Ris Punggol, noted that the government imposed “minimal conditions” on PHC booking service operators when the industry was still in its early stages in order to avoid “stifling innovation”. Several years on, he acknowledged that circumstances had greatly changed.

“From an emerging fringe transport node, PHCs have become an important part of our land transport system. Based on the Public Transport Council’s latest survey, it is estimated that there may be twice as many rides taken on PHCs as compared to taxis,” he noted.

While the Land Transport Authority (LTA) can issue suspension orders in “exceptional situations” to forbid private-hire car drivers from driving for Grab or Uber, the Minister said that this is a very “blunt tool” which impacts commuters and drivers as well. 

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