Photo from GrabTaxi

The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) today (Jun 20) cautioned the public not to use GrabHitch, a new innovative Malaysia-Singapore cross-border car-sharing mobile application and threatened to jail offenders with a maximum S$3,000 fine and 6-month jail.

“Malaysian-registered cars are not allowed to provide hire-and-reward services in Singapore without a public service vehicle license.”

Popular taxi-service Grab announced the new GrabHitch service only a week ago (Jun 13) and the service is in the midst of a three-week free pilot programme. In its promotion, it said the average cost for the car-pool is only S$12. GrabHitch can also ease congestion in the Singapore-Malaysia Causeway by having more people hitching on a private car and cutting the number of vehicles queuing at the custom.

The LTA ban however contradicts with the Singapore government’s earlier call for a “car-lite” society, with many criticising the Singapore government for being greedy and opposing the carpool application because it is not possible to tax Malaysian cars on hire. There is no comment from Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Singapore fare poorly on innovation and entrepreneurship because the Singapore government is slow to deregulate new industries and is often resistant to market developments.