Singapore—Manpower Minister Josephine Teo met with taxi drivers from ComfortDelGro, the country’s biggest taxi company on July 29, Monday.
In recent years, ComfortDelGro has faced increased competition from ride-hailing operators, resulting in fewer taxis even as the ranks of private-hire drivers have grown.
Ms Teo encouraged the company, as well as its drivers, to welcome changes, and to enhance their digital skills. She also encouraged the firm to make their apps easier to use by consumers.
In short, the Manpower Minister pointed out ways how technology could be to their advantage.
In the meeting, which was held at Comfort DelGro’s office at in Ming Avenue, taxi drivers’ retirement age of 75 was also discussed, as well as their lower take-home pay as a result of ride-hailing operations in the past few years.
The Manpower Minister told them that since “the way people call a cab has changed, therefore you must also change”.
She also encouraged them to add more payment options. These could be adding a payment wallet or a rewards system, like what ride-hailing operators have.
But according to Ang Wei Neng, Comfort DelGro’s CEO, more changes are coming, and in fact the company’s app would see changes every two weeks, he told The Straits Times (ST).
From 2017, the number of taxis in the country has decreased considerably, with more than 3,500 taxis less than what it used to be. The ST reports that last month, there were only 19,478 taxis in Singapore.
In contrast, there are now 71,180 private-hire cars, including chauffeured cars and self-driven cars, representing an increase of more than 3000.
Ms Teo also said that Comfort DelGro will seek steps to help drivers adjust to their new challenges. She lauded efforts from the company such as its one-day training program designed to help employees to use technology better.
This program started in May and will continue through January 2021.
When the Manpower Minister talked about the retirement age of the taxi drivers, she agreed with them that they should be allowed to continue to work provided that their health, especially their eyesight, allowed this.
She told them, “I will find the right occasion to lend support to your cause.”
The ST reports that the 72-year-old cabbie who asked Ms Teo about the retirement age told them that some drivers in their 70s are still in good health. “A lot of them have no work after stopping as a taxi driver, and I pity some of them because their children don’t look after them.”
On its Facebook page, the taxi company described the sit-down with Ms Teo as “like a meeting between old friends.” The post reads,
“It was like a meeting between old friends.
Earlier today, Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Home Affairs, met some ComfortDelGro cabbies for a chit chat session.
ComfortDelGro Taxi is one of several companies to have met the Tripartite Standards for Self-Employed Persons.
Joining them were Mr Ang Wei Neng, CEO of ComfortDelGro Taxi as well as representatives of MOM and TAFEP. Mrs Teo also observed the SkillsFuture Digital Workplace training that cabbies are going through.” / TISG