Ex-LTA CEO Chew Men Leong's poor handling of the taxi industry

By: SG Taxi Driver

Over the past couple of years, Chew Men Leong, CEO of LTA had made a few costly mistake that embarrassed the government and inconvenienced the commuters. Since, I’m from the taxi industry, I will voice out the blunders they had made in the taxi industry first before moving on to other areas.

  1. Although, LTA had make a good move to delink taxi to COE, this would ensure that COE catered to private road users only. But LTA had imposed a 2% cap on the growth of the taxi companies (restriction of the growth of the taxi companies will be mentioned later) which distorted the overall representation of the of the market:
    a) With the ever increasing of the population in Singapore, the increase in demand for taxi services naturally increases. Without, increasing of the taxi population, demand for taxi had further outstripped supply. This causes longer waiting time and frustration for commuters.b) With 2% cap, it would only ensure that Comfort Delgro, the biggest taxi company, will never be overtaken by other taxi companies (at least for a decade). Thus it created a self entitlement of monopoly of the taxi industry. It also gave a non competitive edge to big players, giving them no incentive to improve the experience of the commuters and it also diminishes drivers’ benefit. All this changed after the entrance of the 3rd party apps for private vehicle (will highlight this later).
  2. Third party providers bring cheers to the commuters when they were introduced. It helped to solve the commuters’ woes of waiting for taxis. Why LTA approved the third party apps are mainly two basic reasons:a) To cover up their mistake of capping the growth of the taxi industry.b) To solve the short term view of taxi woes. But with the approving of the third party providers, LTA had created other problems:i) Road congestion due to more road users.ii) High COE prices when it is supposed to fall. Resulting in people being unable to purchase new vehicles due to high COE.iii) Increases terrorism threat to Singapore. Is LTA going to impose other regulations to cover up their mistake again?
  3. Regulation of third party providers has also got to be questioned when the bill, as it was first read out in the parliament by Senior of State for Transportation, Ng Chee Meng, had only basic regulations. Concerns about maintenance and insurance issues were not even mentioned. These two issues are the most important for commuters and drivers, in term of safety and protection. It showed that LTA had not helped Mr Ng on tabling the bill. Mr Ng said the Bill should be much better at the next parliament sitting. The he remarked at the second sitting: “Completely level playing field for private-hire car operators not desirable”. This statement angered majority of the taxi drivers.This second parliament reading was prepared by Chew Men Leong and read out by Mr Ng.
  4. Singapore Transportation System is considered world class, yet Chew can’t solve the problem of commuters’ woes. He instead, used short term solutions and neglected long term solutions. Chew had made Singapore a laughing stock of a world class transportation system.
  5. Letting Changi Airport Group to practice double standard in fining taxi drivers in Airport compound while closing an eye for the private vehicles.

Next, I will come to other blunders of LTA, under Chew’s charge.

  1. Implementing “Give Way” to bus on exiting the bus stop, lastest being “give-way” to buses on the second lane of the busy road – Orchard Road. Singapore which has millions of foreigners who come to work/live in Singapore, might not be familiar with the road system in Singapore, as it is not common in other countries. This rule in fact poses a danger to all motorist and it is just a fatality waiting to happen.
  2. MRT Trains, despite frequent breakdown of the trains and their systems, LTA is just busying finding fault with the company and “fines” them. What is the root cause of all these problems? Was Chew bothered to find out? We doubt so, especially when MRT trains were secretly shipped back to China.

Having said so much, we are sad to hear him resign. But he will not be missed by all of us. Because of him, commuters, taxi drivers and the government are being embarrassed, inconvenienced and have decreased income.