There’s something really wrong with the folks in charge of Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing System..
I came to this conclusion today after paying two lots of ERP charges at $2 each, not because I came out of the restricted zone and went back in but because I went from an outer restricted zone to what appeared to be a restricted zone within a restricted zone.
I had gone to Central Mall via River Valley Road and paid $2 to enter the restricted zone. I paid $2.68 car parking fees and lo and behold as I got out of the carpark to head back to River Valley Road I found I had to cross another gantry (even tho I thought I was already in the restricted zone) and my cash card was another $2 poorer!
Come on, Minister for Transport, today is a Saturday and traffic flow was lighter than for normal days and also lighter than seen in those glorious Saturdays during boom times when all of Singapore seemed to be on the move, to spend, spend, spend.
Singapore is in recession and heading possibly for an 8 to 10% decline in GDP this year, if our trade — which is oxygen to our existence — should shrink any more. We’ve done the unprecedented thing of raiding our reserves to support Government spending and the mantra on everyone’s lips is to save jobs and stem further loss of confidence.
The consensus is that the world is seeing its worst banking crisis in 50 years; most people under 60 hasn’t seen anything so grim and even those in their 70s and 80s are probably too young to remember or know of the Great Depression first hand.
So those in charge of the ERP: u Rip Van Winkle in deep slumber or trying to undermine what the Minister for Finance is doing?
Retailers are dying. Yes, even the Central Food Court we went to was barely a quarter full when we reached it around 1pm.. Even my 85-year-old mother had nous enough to remark that things must be bad when even food courts are empty.
It’s time to cut ERP charges, if not remove them altogether, for Saturday. People need to be encouraged to spend some money and one of the best ways to do that is to give them back the freedom to go into the heart of town — taken away when traffic was heavy and the weight of cash in consumers’ pockets was heavier still.