oBike must commit to "full and prompt removal" of bicycles, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

oBike must commit to "full and prompt removal" of bicycles

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It also tells bike-sharing firm to have concrete plan to refund deposits

Bike-sharing firm oBike must show its commitment to a "full and prompt removal" of its bicycles and make a concrete plan to refund customers their deposits, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday.

Only then will the LTA consider extending the deadline for oBike to remove its bikes, said an LTA spokesman.

In an interview with The Straits Times on Monday, oBike chairman Shi Yi had said the firm was not likely to meet today's deadline to collect all 70,000 of its bikes from public areas.

In another media interview, he said financial penalties imposed by the LTA for failing to remove its bikes could eat into the funds available to refund customers.

oBike users, who were required to make deposits of up to $49, were left wondering if they would get their money back when the firm closed suddenly on June 25.

LTA said it was "deeply disappointed" by Mr Shi's comments, as oBike had committed to "exit the market responsibly" by removing its bicycles from public spaces as soon as possible and refunding customers.

This commitment had been given at a meeting between LTA and oBike founders, including Mr Shi, on Saturday.

"oBike further pledged it would pay for the clean-up of bicycles using funds from its shareholders or other sources, and not user deposits," said LTA.

LTA said it was oBike's responsibility to have a concrete plan to refund customers' deposits.

The authority added: "If LTA has to step in to remove its bicycles after they are found to be parked indiscriminately beyond the grace period, we will have to impose the relevant fees on oBike, so as to avoid having taxpayers bear the burden of the operator's irresponsible actions."

Separately, the beleaguered bike-sharing firm has also failed to pay more than $140,000 in fines to five town councils, an amount that may never be recovered now the company has folded.

When ST visited oBike's vacant office at Commonwealth yesterday, 172 final reminder notices, for fines amounting to $86,000, from the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council were pasted on the windows.

Nee Soon Town Council chairman Louis Ng said it was owed $25,600 while his counterpart at Tanjong Pagar, Mr Melvin Yong, put the amount at about $30,000.

Jurong-Clementi Town Council chairman Ang Wei Neng said oBike owed it $3,500 while Marine Parade Town Council chairman Lim Biow Chuan said it was owed $2,600.

Mr Shi told ST on Monday that as part of its exit strategy, the firm had considered giving away its bicycles to users in lieu of paying back the deposit, though this plan was ultimately dismissed.

However, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing partner Jonathan Kok said such a decision can only be made by the liquidator.

Meanwhile, ShareBikeSG put the brakes on its business on Sunday. The home-grown outfit entered the market just six months ago, hoping to differentiate itself from the competition by offering mountain bikes.

With ShareBikeSG bowing out, along with oBike and GBikes, there are now four dockless bike-share operators left.

Mobike, ofo, Anywheel and SG Bike have submitted licence applications to LTA before the July 7 deadline. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DEEPANRAJ GANESAN