Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill [Bill No. 29/2018]
Sir, I rise in support of this Bill which updates the regime governing mobility vehicles and introduces a new registration requirement for certain PMDs.
Mobility vehicles are sustainable alternatives that have evolved to meet the transport needs of an urban environment. When used responsibly and safely, they provide greater convenience, promote public transportation by providing first and last-mile connections, and are themselves a form of recreation.
How the different users navigate and share public spaces in land-scarce Singapore can be a significant source of friction. Mobility vehicles are perceived as competing with pedestrians for space and posing threats to pedestrian safety.
My residents regularly provide feedback about these dangers and want the government to do more to protect pedestrians.
My residents also regularly see me when they get fined and say the government is enforcing too much and need to relax a bit when it comes to mobility vehicles. They feel there are too many restrictions.
We need to find a middle ground. As Gavin Chan highlighted to me on Facebook, we should think about longer term social norms we want to inculcate for public path and road use whilst addressing short term pain points through legislative reforms and refinements. This should be done with the participation of all users.
To this end, I note and welcome incremental, consultative, and education-based approach the Government is taking in its regulation of mobility devices.
Many of these amendments are based on observations from the implementation of the Active Mobility Act, which came into effect this year.
The Active Mobility Advisory Panel has also been very active, just recently releasing their second recommendation report.
I am thus supportive of these amendments, which are based on extensive consultations, and just have a number of clarifications to make.
Clarifications on Registration Obligations
I have some clarifications on the scope and implementation of the PMD registration requirement under the new Part 3A.
Firstly, can the Minister clarify whether the provisions relating to registration contemplates a corporate body or company being an owner of a PMD on the register? Would it be possible, for instance, for a food delivery company to own a fleet of PMDs?
Next, can the Minister clarify whether there is an obligation on the registered responsible person to update the register upon a change of ownership or when the PMD ceases to be used?
Further, can the Authority refuse registration of a PMD on the basis that the applicant had been previously convicted of mobility vehicle-related offences?
I also understand that the obligations of an owner of a PMD or PAB continue even after cancelling their registration, as the person last registered will be treated as the owner under the definition of “owner” if the registration has been cancelled.
How can owners safeguard themselves against continuing liability for offences relating to a PMD or PAB even after cancelling their registration?
Enforcement Powers of Outsourced Enforcement Officers
Next, enforcement powers under Sections 41, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 and 50 have been extended to outsourced enforcement officers.
Can the Minister clarify whether enforcement powers exercised by outsourced enforcement officers, public path wardens, and volunteer path wardens are public powers that would be similarly amenable to judicial review?
Next, Clause 27 amends the current Section 53(2) of the Active Mobility Act to remove the requirement to make reasonable inquiry to locate the owner of a vehicle before disposing of it. Can the Minister clarify the rationale for removing this requirement? Has this requirement proven to be too onerous for LTA?
Given the new registration requirement for PMDs, it would surely be easier to locate the owner for this class of mobility vehicles.
Also, the reasonable inquiry requirement might have provided a counter-balance to the expansion of the power of disposal now conferred on outsourced enforcement officers under the new Section 50 of the Active Mobility Act.
Width of footpaths
Lastly, Clause 3 amends Section 18 of the Active Mobility Act, which includes the use of PMDs on footpaths. I support these amendments.
Last year, Minister Khaw responded to a Parliamentary Question stating that footpaths in Singapore are wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists at the same time.
He stated that most of the country’s footpaths are at least 1.5 metres wide, while footpaths near town centres and MRT stations are generally wider, between 2.4 metres and 3.6 metres.
In his response, Minister Khaw considered that such width is sufficient to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists.
Given that mobility devices are now permitted up to a width of 0.7 metres, this leaves barely enough space when two mobility devices pass each other on a footpath that, is 1.5 metres wide.
Thus, beyond these amendments, is the Ministry reviewing the minimum width of existing and new footpaths?
Further, can the Minister provide an update on any works it has undertaken to widen footpaths that might be too narrow to safely accommodate both pedestrians and mobility vehicles?
Sir, clarifications notwithstanding, I stand in support of this Bill and the wider efforts to promote harmonious and safe use of our public paths by all.