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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced last week that the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry on the CTE (northbound) will shorten its operating time from 10:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
If this matter sounds familiar, it is because the SDP has repeatedly raised this issue. In December 2010, we put forward an alternative transport policy where we proposed ideas to make the transportation system fairer and more affordable for Singaporeans. (See here)
In it we specifically called out the northbound CTE gantry: “Presently gantries are put up, for example, on the CTE towards Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio. They are in operation at night until 10:30 pm. Why should motorists going home to be with their families after a long day at work have to pay the ERP?” This point was repeated when we published our manifesto. (See here)
During the general elections Dr Ang Yong Guan, our candidate at the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, again brought up this point. He said:
The ERP is meant to reduce congestion in the city. Then they extended it to the evening when you go home. They want you to stagger your hours. But at the CTE, the ERP is until 10:30 pm. It doesn’t sense, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Why are we saying don’t go home until 10:30? How to make babies? (Watch video below)
We are gratified to note that the PAP Government has relented on this matter and reduced the operating hours of the gantry to 8:00 pm. This is again a demonstration of the effectiveness of Singapore Democrats as an opposition party. We take pride in pointing out the flaws in PAP’s policies and putting pressure on it to amend them.
At the same time, however, we are of the view that the reduction in the operating hours of this and other gantries is inadequate. The reason being that the ERP’s original purpose, as Dr Ang mentioned, was to reduce traffic flow into the Central Business District during the morning rush hour.
Why would the ERP be applied to motorists going home after office hours? Setting the operating hours till 8 pm serves as a deterrence to workers who want to go home earlier to be with their families. Are we not concerned that Singaporeans are already finidng it too financially burdensome to start families in Singapore that we have to add another layer of unnecessary fees?
Many do want to slog away into the night and prefer to get home to be with their loved ones for dinner and to spend quality time with their children. Why do they have to pay a penalty to do that?
This is not the first time that the SDP has been right on issues. The Government has followed our lead on several matters. For example, the NTUC is now advocating a Singaporeans First Policy in which Singaporeans must be considered first when it comes to employment. The Singapore Democrats have been pushing for it for more than a decade.
Our opponents say that the SDP is confrontational and destructive. If this is true, then why are they following our lead and implementing policies that we propose? The truth is that the Singapore Democrats is a constructive and effective opposition party. In this, we take pride.