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Singapore

Some Aljunied residents want PMD ban at void decks; AHTC says it already has deterrent powers

SINGAPORE: Some residents in Aljunied and Hougang want personal mobility devices (PMD) banned from HDB void decks and common areas, but the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) said on Friday (Aug 16) that it already has "powers" to deter people from riding such devices in common areas.

This comes after Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament on Aug 5 that all 15 People's Action Party (PAP) town councils will implement the ban, which means riders will have to dismount and push their PMDs in those areas.

On Aug 7, PAP town council coordinating chairman Teo Ho Pin said in a statement that the ban will kick in on Sep 1, after amendments to town council by-laws on common property and open spaces.

Under the amended by-laws, the town councils can fine these PMD riders or take them to court.

While AHTC did not confirm either way if it would implement the ban, it told CNA that it already has the "powers to deter PMDs from riding at common areas". 

"However, enforcing these powers without evidence of an infraction is a challenge," it said in response to queries.

It added that it has implemented a two-pronged approach to reduce irresponsible PMD use.

"Firstly, the town council has stepped up on educational efforts to remind PMD users to be considerate and to dismount and push their PMDs at the lift lobbies and void decks," it said.

"Secondly, residents who observe errant PMD riders are encouraged to use LTA's new app (feature) to spot, snap and send (a report)."

Separately, AHTC said it is working with the Land Transport Authority to implement pedestrian-only zones in its district.

Dr Lam had said in Parliament that the zones will first be trialled in Bedok, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok, Khatib and Tampines.

RESIDENTS WANT BAN IMPLEMENTED

Of 11 Aljunied and Hougang residents CNA spoke to on Thursday, nine said they want the ban implemented, citing the safety of children and the elderly. Several residents also said that they have had near-miss incidents and witnessed reckless riding.

Residents living in Aljunied's Kaki Bukit division, near a Bedok North food centre and McDonald's outlet where PMD riders regularly hang out, said the ban should be implemented at their blocks and common areas.

"There are blind spots. Kids are running everywhere and they might get hit. It's quite dangerous," said technical manager Tan Yap Chong, 39.

Mr Tan, who was almost hit once by a speeding PMD while coming out of a lift, is now careful to always keep his six-year-old son close to him.

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council elderly man
An elderly man walking past the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council office in Bedok North. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

Retiree Goh Choon Thiang, 51, said he was involved in a similar near-miss incident at his lift lobby. "There might be pregnant women here," he said. "If they are hit, who is going to answer?

"Although it’s very convenient to use PMDs to travel from point A to point B, you have to use it properly. Don’t cause harm to others because of your own convenience."

Homemaker Jennifer Lee, 70, said she has seen PMDs speeding through sheltered walkways.

"I’ve seen a lot of old people with walking aids exercising near the void decks," she added. "The ban should be implemented all over Singapore to cut down on these PMD incidents."

GrabFood rider void deck
A food delivery rider at a common corridor. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

While another resident who only wanted to be known as Shafie said he was supportive of the ban, he added that first-time offenders should preferably be let off with a warning, with food delivery riders given more leniency.

"If the rules are too tight, then they cannot work," said the 36-year-old, who himself delivers food on a motorcycle. "But if the offenders are kids riding dangerously for fun, they should be punished. Those who are repeatedly reckless should be fined and have their devices confiscated."

PMD riders Hougang
PMD riders near Hougang. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

Retiree Jamaludin Mohd, however, said that not all food delivery riders are mindful, noting that they are usually "rushing against time".

"Last time, PMDs were used to go from place to place," the 70-year-old said, just as a rider who was on his mobile phone turned a blind corner.

"Now, it’s also used for food delivery. When it’s business, they ride fast (but) we shouldn’t have near-misses. We must eliminate this from happening. If not, prevent it."

ENFORCEMENT ALSO NEEDED

Nevertheless, residents said the ban will only be effective if it is enforced.

Hougang resident Danny Sim, an engineer, said a ban "with no action taken is redundant". "The ban should be implemented, but who is going to enforce?" the 35-year-old asked.

Mr Goh said there are so many cameras that authorities will not be able to monitor each and every location.

"They should depend on public reporting and law enforcement coming down to take a look," he said.

Police camera PMD enforcement
Police cameras will be used to catch PMD riders who flout the ban at void decks and common areas. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

Meanwhile, most of the residents acknowledged that reckless users made up only a small number of the PMD community.

Aljunied resident M Nishathini, 21, said she does not think PMDs should be banned at void decks as she believes most riders would ride safely in residential areas.

"When there are people, they will know to ride slow," she added.

Engineer Aditya Krishna, 35, said he's been involved in near-miss incidents "not at void decks, but at footpaths where it’s allowed".

"So, it’s not about the location, but the rider and his behaviour."

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