Cabbies: A New Chapter

Sam Hwang


The Cabbie saga continues. Joe Benjamin is in danger of losing touch with the times. A new breed emerges in the persona of Ken Andrew. Although a Eurasian, he is very much at home with the local idiom. He can hold his own among a group of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Punjabi friends, as much as he can converse with his fellow Eurasians. Most importantly, he is more tech savvy and takes to new gadgets eagerly without any reservation.

For the taxi-driver, the situation in Singapore is excruciatingly frustrating. Suddenly, he is immersed into a new playing field – hardly a level one – where you now see one country with two systems. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s an experiment which the government of the day is willing to try. On the one hand, you have the regular or normal taxis. On the other, you have a parallel system of private-hire cars posing as taxis and yet plays by a different set of rules. This book explores the questions on everybody’s minds about the conflicting rules for taxis and that for the private-hire cars. This alone will dominate the entire discussion on the taxi industry.

In a nutshell, this is a commentary on the taxi industry in Singapore. It has become a crowded marketplace of cars, apps and drivers. Many are trying to get a piece of the action. Aggressive fight for market share by Grab and Uber made it appear to be a rosy opportunity for anyone who held a driver’s licence to make an extra buck.

As a result, car rental companies, car-sharing schemes, booking apps, private-hire cars and the accompanying drivers have come in to jostle for space on the roads.

Anthony Ooi