Extra costs for not clearing bicycles 'might affect' refund of users' deposits: oBike chairman

Extra costs for not clearing bicycles 'might affect' refund of users' deposits: oBike chairman

Any fees imposed by Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) on oBike if it fails to remove its bicycles from the streets by the Wednesday (Jul 4) deadline might affect the funds available to return customers' deposits, said the company's founding investor and chairman Shi Yi.  Gwyneth Teo with more.

SINGAPORE: Any fees imposed by Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) on oBike if it fails to remove its bicycles from the streets by the Wednesday (Jul 4) deadline might affect the funds available to return customers' deposits, the company's founding investor and chairman Shi Yi told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday.

In an emailed response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, Mr Shi said the company hopes that LTA will not levy towage and storage fees if oBike fails to clear the bicycles, as its "focus right now is to refund the deposit to users". 

"Any extra cost (we incur) might affect our available funds to refund customers," added Mr Shi. 

The 29-year-old added that oBike has started retrieving bicycles in Singapore and is working closely with LTA. 

"We will do what we can to meet the requirements (LTA has set)," he added. 

Since oBike announced that it ceased operations in Singapore, its fleet of 70,000 bicycles have been left abandoned in public areas islandwide. 

At the same time, oBike's users are seeking refunds for their mandatory deposits, S$19 and S$49 for students and other users respectively. Mr Shi confirmed that the total deposits it owed to customers amounted to US$4.6 million (S$6.3 million), and stressed that oBike is "proactively looking for a solution to start the refund process". 

"We will inform (users) once (the refund process) is finalised," added Mr Shi. 

He added that the company's decision to cease operations in Singapore was made by oBike's board of directors and shareholders.

"We understand that it has caused inconvenience ... to people. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we are committed to fix the issue," he said. 

Mr Shi added that oBike might consider resuming operations in Singapore if "regulations are business friendly" or the company has a "new business plan" to meet LTA's requirements for an operating license. 

oBike had said it stopped operations in Singapore because of difficulties in meeting the new requirements put in place by LTA to tackle indiscriminate parking.

In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, LTA said that it is "deeply disappointed" that oBike has "reneged on its earlier commitment to refund customer’s deposits and in turn conveniently linked this to potential fees by LTA".

 It is oBike’s responsibility to have a concrete plan to refund customers’ deposits as well as remove its bicycles from public areas, LTA said.

Should LTA have to step in to remove oBike's bicycles, the authority will impose the relevant fees on oBike, it added.

Source: CNA/am

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