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Man charged with providing private carpooling services during circuit breaker

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old man became the first individual to be hauled to court for offering carpooling services during the circuit breaker.

Man charged with providing private carpooling services during circuit breaker

Ng Chiang Huat was handed three charges on May 28, 2020, including leaving his home without a reasonable excuse on the morning of April 23, 2020 to provide carpooling services.

SINGAPORE — A 53-year-old man became the first individual to be hauled to court for offering carpooling services during the circuit breaker.

Ng Chiang Huat was handed three charges on Thursday (May 28), including leaving his home without a reasonable excuse on the morning of April 23 to provide these services.

Based on court documents, the Singapore permanent resident was nabbed along Handy Road in Dhoby Ghaut at about 10.45am that day. He is accused of driving a car without a valid public service vehicle licence and the necessary third-party insurance.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said last month that it carried out enforcement operations at several locations against such drivers. Two drivers, including Ng, were booked and their vehicles seized while investigations were done.

Carpooling services, including those arranged privately and through ride-sharing platforms such as GrabHitch and RydePool, are prohibited during this stay-home period as they are considered non-essential services.

LTA said that while commercial operators have suspended their services, they were aware of drivers continuing to offer them through messaging platforms.

Commuters going on essential travel should use public transport, taxis or private-hire cars, LTA added. Those who come across individuals offering illegal carpooling services should notify LTA through the OneMotoring portal.

LTA prosecutor Ng Jun Kai said on Thursday that the accused man faces “serious charges” and that his actions “would undermine the Government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 during this crucial period”.

The accused man told the court that he intends to plead guilty. He added that he was an essential worker and had to work, but did not give more details. 

He will return to court on June 5.

If convicted of driving without a valid public service vehicle licence, he could be fined up to S$3,000, jailed up to six months or handed both penalties. 

If convicted of driving without insurance, he could be jailed up to three months, fined up to S$1,000 or punished with both. He could also be disqualified from holding a driver's licence for a year.

He could also be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months or face both penalties, if convicted under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020.

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