By: Jahangir Ibrahim
It was announced in Parliament yesterday that Uber, Grab or other transport app drivers will be regulated soon. Like taxi drivers, they will need to get a taxi vocational licence and be subjected to the various LTA taxi regulations.
There is no minimum age as long as the drivers held a Class 3/3A driving licence for at least two years.
But the biggest caveat is, both PRs and work permit holders can now apply. They cannot be sole-proprietors however. All they need to do is to come under the umbrella of a transport company. That is to say, they must be employed by a company.
So, for example, a transport company can hire a work permit holder for $1,000 and give him a bit more commission to work as a ‘taxi driver’. No doubt, with the right incentives and the strong S$, the work permit holder will have no qualms working 12 hours a day voluntarily.
Previously, only Singaporeans can drive taxi as can be seen in LTA website.. Only Singaporeans above 30 years old can drive one:
• You must be at least 30 years old;
• You must be a Singapore Citizen holding a pink NRIC;
• You must have a valid Class 3/3A Singapore driving licence for a continuous period of at least one year at the point of application; and
• You must be able to speak and read basic English.
Now, a 20-year-old foreign work permit holder can also get into this trade. Indeed, the strong S$ has been attracting a lot of foreigners, especially those from third world countries, to come and work in Singapore.
Take for example, for an Indian national working in Singapore, S$1 can translate to Rs 50 for him to send home.
According to this news, the minimum wage for a municipal cleaner in Bangalore, one of the more expensive cities in India, is Rs 1,800 (S$36) per month. But because of constant collusion between cleaning companies and officials, the cleaners are only making Rs 800-900 (S$16-18) per month under inhuman conditions.
At S$1,000, this translates to Rs 50,000 per month, some 28 times (or 56 times unofficially) that of a cleaner’s wage in Bangalore. It’s no wonder that many third world nationals want to come and work in Singapore, even willing to put up with 12-hour work day, nevermind about flouting Singapore labour laws.
In any case, commuters should be prepared to be see more foreign ‘taxi’ drivers driving them in the near future.