SINGAPORE: Food delivery riders began trading in their e-scooters on Friday (Nov 15), setting in motion a S$7 million e-scooter Trade-in Grant (eTG) scheme that was announced a week ago.
The grant, funded equally by the Government and the three main food delivery companies in Singapore, is aimed at getting food delivery riders who have been using personal mobility devices (PMDs) to switch to devices that are approved by the Land Transport Authority.
The initiative came after the Government banned the use of e-scooters on footpaths due to safety, sparking those who rely on such devices to make a living to gather at Meet-the-People sessions across Singapore to speak to Members of Parliament.
The scheme, which was announced on Nov 8, allows each rider to get up to S$1,000 to trade their e-scooter in for an e-bike or up to S$600 for a bicycle. Those eligible to use personal mobility aids such as motorised wheelchairs can get up to S$1,000 as well.
There are about 7,000 food delivery riders in Singapore who use e-scooters.
A Foodpanda spokesperson said that a third of its riders who were eligible had signed up for the grant "within the first few hours" of the scheme being launched.
GrabFood said about 20 per cent of its delivery riders who use PMDs, which it previously said made up about a third of its riders, had applied for the scheme as of 4pm Friday.
Five per cent of Deliveroo riders use either a PMD or an e-bike. The company said it received applications for the grant, but did not say how many.
“All applications will be shared with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for their approval and we expect more applications in the coming days,” said a Deliveroo spokesperson.
The companies have tied the eligibility of the grant to the productivity of their riders.
Foodpanda riders who managed to hit more than 100 hours of deliveries between Oct 9 and Nov 7 are eligible for a free e-bike if they trade their e-scooters in, though the e-bikes will only be available from Dec 31.
Those who completed fewer than 100 hours during that time are eligible for reimbursements.
A Deliveroo spokesperson said riders who completed at least 20 orders between Oct 9 and Nov 7 are immediately eligible for 100 per cent of the grant.
Those who completed fewer than 20 orders during that time will immediately be able to get 80 per cent of the grant, with the remaining 20 per cent to be available once they complete another 20 deliveries within a month of getting their new vehicle.
GrabFood delivery riders must have completed at least 20 deliveries between Oct 9 and Nov 7 in order to receive the full grant.
Those with fewer than 20 rides will receive 80 per cent of the grant first, with the remainder disbursed after completing 20 rides within 30 days after submitting the claims.
Delivery riders working with Foodpanda and GrabFood will also be able to rent bicycles for free from local bike-sharing operator SG Bikes until the end of the year.
On Friday, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) also announced that it was offering food delivery riders affected by the footpath ban vouchers and training programmes.
Delivery riders who are union members will enjoy three months of membership reimbursement, sponsored by NTUC, Foodpanda and GrabFood.
Riders who are existing NTUC members will also be able to apply for S$200 worth of Kopitiam or NTUC FairPrice gift cards for food and groceries, while new union members can apply for S$100 gift cards.
Those who wish to continue as food delivery riders will be able to go for training programmes in areas such as safety, service management and first aid, offered by NTUC LearningHub.
The NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute will recommend suitable programmes for those who wish to switch to other professions.
“Having heard their concerns on the ground, I urge riders who are not members to join us so that they can access our suite of services that address their needs,” said NTUC’s Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit acting director Jean See.
“We know that some riders are facing financial hardship and hope that the fund will provide them with some immediate relief. I also strongly encourage riders to take up the training programmes that will be rolled out soon.”
NOT ALL RIDERS SATISFIED
Despite the initiatives, some riders remain dissatisfied.
Ms Mastura Mas’od, who had gone to Grab’s premises at Midview City at Sin Ming on Friday afternoon, said she had spent more than S$900 on an e-scooter just a month earlier in order to deliver for GrabFood.
The 31-year-old is one of the riders who had attended Meet-the-People sessions over the past two weeks hoping to air their grievances.
READ: Government's main priority is to return safety to pedestrians on footpaths, says Dr Lam Pin Min
Ms Mastura said she was resigned to the footpath ban, but suggested that a vocational licence be introduced so delivery riders could continue using their e-scooters.
She also said riding a bicycle or e-bike alongside traffic would be unsafe.
Another rider, 57-year-old Salim, said cycling for long hours to make deliveries would be too taxing at his age.
He spent more than S$1,400 on an e-scooter to do food deliveries.
Mr Salim, who previously worked as a forklift driver, said he was considering going back into the logistics line after e-scooters were banned on footpaths.
“I understand the ban is to stop reckless riders from flooding the footpath, but it makes doing my job almost impossible.”