Singapore: Man charged with breaking COVID-19 law to provide carpooling services

SINGAPORE: A man was charged on Thursday (May 28) with breaking a COVID-19 regulation by leaving his house to provide carpooling services, along with two other traffic offences.

Ng Chiang Huat, a 53-year-old Singapore permanent resident, was charged with one count of leaving his house without reasonable excuse under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

He also received a charge each for driving without the required insurance policy and without a valid public service vehicle licence.

Ng is accused of providing the carpooling services at about 10.45am on Apr 23, at Handy Road.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement last month that they had nabbed two drivers and seized their vehicles during enforcement operations against drivers continuing to provide carpooling services during the “circuit breaker” period.

One of them was Ng. He is shown in a photo in LTA’s statement with his vehicle pulled over by the side of the road, with two officers on the scene.

LTA had announced that carpooling services, including privately arranged ones, are not essential services and are prohibited during the circuit breaker.

“While commercial operators have suspended their carpooling services, LTA is aware that some drivers, like the two who have been booked, continue to offer such services privately through messaging platforms,” said the authority.

It added that such “irresponsible behaviour” endangers the health of drivers, passengers and their families and undermines Singapore’s efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

LTA said anyone who comes across such illegal services should notify it through the OneMotoring portal.

Ng intends to plead guilty and will return to court next month to do so.

For breaching a COVID-19 regulation, he can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For driving without a valid public service vehicle licence, he can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$3,000, or both.

The penalties for driving without the required insurance policy are a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to S$1,000, or both.

He can also be banned from driving for up to a year.