LTA 'deeply disappointed' in oBike, says will impose fees if bicycles not cleared

LTA 'deeply disappointed' in oBike, says will impose fees if bicycles not cleared

oBike east of Singapore
This abandoned oBike was found along Telok Kurau Road. (Photo: Amir Yusof)  

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said late on Tuesday (Jul 3) 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".

LTA's comments, made in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, came after the bicycle-sharing operator said that any fees imposed by LTA on the company might affect the funds available to return customers' deposits.

oBike's founding investor and chairman Shi Yi told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday afternoon that the company hopes LTA will not impose levy towage and storage fees if it fails to clear the bicycles by the Wednesday deadline. 

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

LTA said in its statement that it is "oBike's responsibility to have a concrete plan to refund customers' deposits", and that it is the company's responsibility to source for funds to cover the costs it needs to properly wind down operations.

"oBike also has the responsibility to remove its bicycles from public areas. We will not hesitate to do the same for any other irresponsible bike sharing operator should they flout the rules," an LTA spokesperson said. 

LTA added that when LTA met with oBike founders, including Mr Shi, on Jun 30, they had committed to exit the market responsibly by removing the bicycles from public spaces as soon as possible and refunding customer's deposits. 

"oBike further pledged that it would pay for the clean-up of bicycles using funds from its shareholders or other sources, and not user deposits," said the spokesperson, who also noted that Mr Shi had publicly committed to a full refund of deposits on Sunday

LTA said that it is open to consider any request for an extension of the deadline, should oBike be able to demonstrate its commitment to ensure the full and prompt removal of its bicycles. 

In the event that LTA has to step in to remove the bicycles, it will have to impose the relevant fees on oBike.  

This is to "avoid having taxpayers bear the burden of the operator's irresponsible actions", the LTA spokesperson explained. 

Source: CNA/ng(aj)