Singapore’s Land Transport Authority has declared that private hire drivers and taxi drivers are not allowed to be couriers or deliverymen for goods if there are no passengers on board, sparking protests from drivers and even taxi companies alike.

LTA was responding to recent developments where Amazon was reported to be using taxi drivers as couriers to meet the huge demand for its retail products.

“Under our regulations, taxis and private-hire cars are meant to carry passengers for hire and reward, and cannot be used solely for the conveyance of goods.

“However, passengers who hire a taxi or a private-hire car are allowed to carry goods with them.”

LTA has not given any statement on the penalties for infringement or if they have been actively enforcing this regulation.

Taxi companies have been quick to defend their actions. ComfortDelGro claims that its drivers have complied with LTA’s regulations, and maintained that the goods are always accompanied by a passenger.

Premier Taxi managing director Lim Chong Boo stated that its drivers are not allowed to perform courier services without anyone on board.

Prime Taxi chairman Neo Nam Heng said the courier business helps drivers optimise capacity during the off-peak hours between 10am and 4pm.

Taxi drivers and private hire vehicle owners however, have been less than happy with the announcement.

“Previously, there was a fear that what we delivered would be contraband or drugs. But now, with an established company like Amazon, we feel it is quite safe,” said one taxi driver. “The taxi business is getting slow, so cabbies need to do something to supplement their earnings.”

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