Thursday, March 06, 2008

Battering Ram

Another instance of the LTA pushing out a half-baked initiative the high-handed way? Well, it has got both taxi drivers and passengers fuming mad, though it may have cheered up car and bus drivers. Of course, I am referring to the latest traffic rule that taxis can only stop at and pick up passengers within the CBD area at designated taxi stands. The LTA reportedly built 10 more taxi stands within this area so that it can claim that there is a taxi stand every 300 m.

But you know, taxi commuters are already paying more for a ride, and now to have to tell them they can't stop right in front of their destination is adding oil to fire. But such high-handedness from government agencies such as the LTA is nothing new. It has been practising this for umpteen years, implementing its policies by forcing rules down people's throat. For most times, Singaporeans have swallowed the thing down - hook, line and sinker, so to speak - albeit often grudgingly, but swallow they have done. The consequence of violating this latest rule is to be out-of-pocket by several hundred dollars and/or some demerits - for the taxi drivers. Well, I am not questioning that the government has to take draconian measures to ensure order and bring about a desired outcome. Having to face the electorate at some point to report not having resolved one thing or other is equally, if not worse.

But this latest taxi-taking policy does not appear to have been well thought through, as many letter writers to the newspapers have pointed out. LTA claims to have thought about them, but chose to view these as bearable problems (the people must be resilient). But what happens during a monsoonal downpour? You'd have to make your way to the taxi stand some hundreds of metres away in the pouring rain? As somebody has pointed out, the policy makers probably have never experienced this before, and so cannot imagine the great discomfort and inconvenience of it all. Fortunately, I do not work in the CBD area anymore, so this policy is of no consequence to me. But it is the manner in which government continues to set and implement rules that disturbs me. Given this patently half-baked policy, I would expect some reversal of sorts some time later. If so, what a waste of public funds in building those spanking new white elephants taxi-stands.

Before that happens, taxi drivers and their passengers will be mightily unhappy with each other - the passenger would be angry because the taxi driver would not bring them right to his doorstep, and the taxi driver would curse the government because it prevents them from giving good service to their customers, besides facing their wrath. Granted some taxi drivers have swerved in and out of traffic to catch that waving arm, thus potentially causing accidents, but there must be a better way of resolving this problem? The government must be more creative and less draconian. This would be in line with our becoming a nation with 'innovation' as its middle name.

Image source: Author: featherwolf


brian koh said...

totally agree that the policy was not thought through properly. my colleague is sick because it started to pour as she was getting to her destination, and she lan lan had to cross the road in the rain.

And obviously they havent thought of people with disabilities, or people carrying a lot of things.

i mean, all these can be solved if im able-bodied, carry an umbrella and pack a trolley everytime i travel to the CBD. is that how we train resilience?

Ghost said...

It is high-handed but I think blame must also be cast on all those drivers whose complains led LTA to enforce such a rule. LTA is just responsing to public complains and if they cancel the rule now, how many people want to bet that these drivers will now issue complains againest LTA for going back on their word?

Epilogos said...

You have a point, but these complaining people didn't exactly tell LTA HOW to solve the problem, did they? So LTA goes off and device this half-baked impractical idea and forces it down the throats of all users of the CBD. Who else can you blame but the LTA?