On Thursday (3 October), a photo of a taxi driver kneeling and pleading to two National Environment Agency (NEA) officers not summon him for smoking in the taxi was uploaded on SG Traffic Incidents Facebook page.
In the image, which has gone viral on social media, the ComfortDelGro cabbie can be seen down on both his knees with his palms placed together as if he was praying. The two traffic wardens, who were wearing Certis caps, were standing in front of him while his cab was parked behind him in a single white lane, along a two-lane road.
It appeared that the man was caught smoking on Thursday at 12.30pm along Mount Elizabeth Road and was immediately issued S$200 fine by the officers, NEA said on Friday (4 October).
“NEA is aware of an image circulating online of a man seen pleading for leniency from NEA officers. The officers notified the driver of the offence before issuing him a ticket of S$200 for smoking in a public service vehicle,” NEA said.
According to the Smoking (Prohibited in Certain Places) Act, those who are caught smoking in a prohibited place or a public service vehicle could be given a composition fine of S$200, or up to the maximum court fine of S$1,000, NEA noted.
In 2017, the law included private-hire vehicles like Grab.
The Straits Times (ST) reported that a Certis spokesman revealed that after its enforcement officer spotted the taxi driver smoking inside his vehicle on Thursday, the officers took down the man’s details and issued him a notice, which is part of the procedures.
“When the man alighted and knelt on the road the further ask for leniency to avoid being summoned, our officers quickly asked him not to do so and coaxed him to return to his vehicle,” said the Certis spokesman.
He added, “Throughout the conversation, our officers remained polite and professional with him.”
After witnessing the picture of the cabbie pleading for mercy from the NEA officers, many netizens felt sorry for the man. Commenting under the picture uploaded by SG Traffic Incidents, they said that he is desperate not to be fined as S$200 could be “life-changing for him”.
Ivan Chong wrote, “It’s sad somehow I feel as its very indicative of the plight and desperation of these hardworking sporeans having worked so hard throughout the day to have their entire day/s earnings FINED away.”
Others stated that the penalty amount is too high as it will jeopardise the taxi driver’s daily income. Queenie Poh said, “The taxi driver’s car rent is very expensive and the penalty is too high”.
On the other hand, Johnson Hor questioned why did the traffic wardens not let the cabbie off the hook after seeing him pleading for mercy in such a pitiful manner.