oBike owes town councils more than S$118,000 in fines; deadline looms to clear bicycles

oBike owes town councils more than S$118,000 in fines; deadline looms to clear bicycles

oBike office summons notices
The 172 notice of offences issued by Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council at oBike's vacant office. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

SINGAPORE: As the clock ticks down to the Wednesday deadline (Jul 4) for oBike to clear its fleet of 70,000 abandoned bicycles off the streets of Singapore, many of the company's bicycles remain strewn on pavements, sidewalks and other open spaces.

When Channel NewsAsia visited areas in the east and west of Singapore on Tuesday, some of the iconic yellow-grey bicycles were seen stacked haphazardly. Others had seats and chains missing.

Abandoned bicycles at ECP
A pile of abandoned oBikes at East Coast Park on Tuesday (Jul 3) morning. (Photo: Desmond Tong) 

The bike-sharing company is facing pressure on several fronts since it announced that it stopped operations in Singapore.

Apart from the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) directive to clear the bicycles by Wednesday, oBike users are seeking refunds for their mandatory deposits, and town councils have issued more than S$118,000 in fines. 

These were for previous offences of leaving the bicycles abandoned after a stipulated time, said some town councils contacted by Channel NewsAsia.

According to Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman of the 15 town councils under the People's Action Party, notices and summons have been issued to all bike-operators since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017 with these firms to cut the irresponsible use of such bicycles.

It appears oBike received the most number of summons from Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council, with 172 notices of offences worth S$86,000 in fines, according to the town council's manager of corporate communications Fen Ng.

Ms Ng said the notices were delivered to oBike’s abandoned office at Commonwealth Lane on Tuesday.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the office on Wednesday morning, there were nine stacks of notices from Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council pasted on the office window, and a 10th stack wedged at the door handle.

Summons at oBike's office
The 10 stacks of notices from Bishan-Payoh Town Council outside oBike's vacant office. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

Ms Ng told Channel NewsAsia that the town council served the notices as it was “protocol”. She added that the town council has tried contacting oBike through calls and emails, but has not received a response.

Two other town councils – Marine Parade and Tanjong Pagar – said that they have issued oBike with summons for offences, mainly for failing to remove indiscriminately parked bicycles from common areas.

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

Marine Parade Town Council said a total of eight summons, amounting to S$2,600, were issued to oBike for offences committed between October 2017 and May 2018.

Chairman for Tanjong Pagar Town Council Melvin Yong told Channel NewsAsia that oBike owes the town council about S$30,000 worth of fines.

“Our town council staff emailed and called oBike’s management to pay up but they have not done so and are now uncontactable. We will work with LTA and consult our lawyers on the next legal steps to take,” said Mr Yong.  

Town councils for Marine Parade, Tanjong Pagar, Nee Soon and Aljuined-Hougang told Channel NewsAsia that they will be awaiting instructions from LTA if oBike does not remove their bicycles by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Dr Teo said the town councils will continue to issue summons to bike-sharing firms for bicycles that are “parked indiscriminately on common property”.

“So as and when (indiscriminate parking) happens, we serve notice to the company and if they don’t move it, we will remove it,” said Dr Teo.

“We are exercising the law, and we will act in the interest of our residents safety and convenience. Any bike companies operating the shared bikes will have to comply with our by-laws, and if they don’t, we have to take action,” he added.  

oBike's founding investor and chairman Shi Yi told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday that any fees imposed by LTA if it fails to remove its bicycles by the deadline might affect its ability to refund customers.

Source: CNA/am/(gs)