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Singapore

Enhanced regulations for PMDs, PABs to include import controls as Parliament passes 2 Bills

SINGAPORE: Two Bills aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework for small motorised vehicles were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (May 26).

The Small Motorised Vehicles (Safety) Bill introduced import controls for unsafe small motorised vehicles, including personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power-assisted bicycles (PABs).

The Active Mobility Bill will allow the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to shorten the forfeiture process of motorised vehicles which pose significant safety risks and expands the public path network on which active mobility devices may be used.

This comes after all motorised PMDs were banned from footpaths from April.

In 2019, 972 users were detected riding non-compliant PMDs and PABs on public paths and roads, while 11 retailers were caught for displaying non-compliant PMDs and PABs and failing to display warning notices, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.

READ: Footpath ban for all motorised PMDs from April; minimum age requirement and online theory test to follow

READ: PMD-related fires almost doubled in 2019; more getting injured: SCDF

As such, there is a need to “go upstream” to “stem the inflow” of non-compliant devices at the point of import, he said.

The Small Motorised Vehicles Bill will require all importers to obtain import approval from LTA before bringing motorised PMDs and PABs into Singapore.

Those with legitimate reasons to import non-compliant devices may receive approval after LTA has determined that the devices will not be abused and used on public paths. For importers, it would be an offence to allow their non-compliant devices to be used for reasons beyond what has been allowed, or if they fail to comply with conditions specified in the import approval.

Meanwhile, the Active Mobility Bill will allow LTA to immediately forfeit devices deemed dangerous, prior to composition or conviction, and to dispose of them after providing a 30-day notice for users to submit objections. This is to mitigate safety hazards arising from storage of such devices.

It will also extend the public path network to include path-connected open spaces, including courtyards, plazas, squares and atriums, to be declared as public paths.

“We remain committed in promoting active mobility as a viable and attractive mode of transport and lifestyle choice in Singapore,” said Dr Lam. 

“When used safely, with the appropriate regulations and infrastructure, active mobility devices can be an affordable, environmentally-friendly and convenient commuting option.”

REQUIRING APPROVAL TO IMPORT SPARE PARTS

Members of Parliament (MPs) welcomed the amendments, which they said would enhance safety of public paths for pedestrians, although some raised concerns on whether the coverage was sufficiently wide.

Several MPs, including Mr Darryl David and Ms Lee Bee Wah, asked if the ministry planned to monitor individuals who may purchase non-compliant devices online from overseas companies.

“All fully assembled motorised PMDs and PABs will need LTA’s approval for import,” said Dr Lam.

READ: E-scooters to be banned from Singapore's footpaths starting Nov 5

READ: E-scooter ban on footpaths: 5 things you need to know

“This will apply regardless of who imports them, regardless of a wholesaler or retailer to sell, or by an individual via an online platform and regardless of the purpose for which the device is imported.”

Other MPs, including Mr Melvin Yong and Mr Saktiandi Supaat, sought clarity on whether import controls would also apply to spare parts, including battery packs, wheel set-ups and attachments, which could be used to modify compliant PMDs or PABs.

While the Small Motorised Vehicles (Safety) Bill does not cover spare parts and only applies to fully assembled PMDs, LTA may extend import controls to cover partially assembled or unassembled devices if there is a need, said Dr Lam.

STEPPING UP ENFORCEMENT 

MPs also asked about how enforcement of these regulations can be stepped up, especially with safe distancing measures and manpower constraints. 

Ms Lee asked if authorities are exploring the use of technology such as “facial recognition or even drones” to quickly identify perpetrators. 

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh asked if MOT would consider recruiting volunteers who can be trained to assist enforcement officers. He also suggested giving incentives to those who help with identifying offenders. 

In response, Dr Lam said that LTA has continued to “mount regular active mobility enforcement operations” against errant riders during the circuit breaker period.

“It has been challenging for enforcement officers to balance all aspects of enforcement duties, with the concurrent responsibility to enforce against breaches of safe distancing measures,” he added.

“I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all our enforcement officers for their service. With the necessary infrastructure and regulatory regime, I'm optimistic that active mobility will be more widely adopted.”

COSTS ON BUSINESSES AND CONSUMERS

There were also concerns about whether the Small Motorised Vehicles (Safety) Bill would impose a cost on businesses and consumers. 

Nominated MP Walter Theseira emphasised the need to “minimise these costs” even as the regulations promote public safety. 

“In some respects, this Bill imposes more regulations on importers of small motorised vehicles than our existing laws on the import of motor vehicles do,” he added. 

He also asked how the framework for approving importers will be applied and whether it will facilitate entry and competition in the small motorised vehicles market.

“I’m concerned that consumers may face higher prices and fewer choices if prospective dealers are unable to gain approval, or are discouraged by high licensing requirements.” 

READ: PMD retailers worried about impact of footpath ban that came 'without warning' 

READ: Almost 2,500 food delivery riders apply for e-scooter trade-in grant 

Similarly, Mr David pointed out the need to ensure the regulations do not “make existing users of PABs worse off”, such as food delivery riders who depend on PABs for their livelihood. 

Mr Saktiandi also asked if the new import regime will lead to increased import levies. “I am concerned that the extra cost will be passed on to consumers,” he said. 

“We will work to keep the import process simple, and import approval and application fees low,” Dr Lam said, adding that details would be released at a later date.

Source: CNA/cc(mi)

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