By: B Goode
A few years back, a friend of mine from the US came for a visit. As we were walking towards Kuan Im temple, we chanced upon an ERP gantry.
“Ah, so that’s the world’s famous money making scam!” he quipped.
“What do you mean?” I asked. My Majulah was starting to boil over.
“Just look at the price per entry. Fifty cents. Fifty cents!” he exclaimed.
“You mean to say that owners of the most expensive cars in the world would be deterred by a mere fifty cents?” he asked.
My Majulah became Malulah.
And therein lay the bogusity (word!) of it all.
When the ERP was first implemented in 1998, its stated purpose was to ultimately do away with the COE scheme. Well, that didn’t happen.
Instead, the ERP, like cancer, has become malignant, spreading from only a few main roads into the City, to all roads into the city and now to even get OUT of the City, you will have to pay.
And with the proposed flying ERP, you will have to pay for the use of all roads. Isn’t that the reason for having road tax?
So what’s the reason for the ERP?
It certainly is not for regulating car ownership because that’s the purpose of the COE. In fact, the COE is more direct and efficient in this regard.
It is not for regulating road usage because…fifty cents!
It is not for helping to pay for the construction and maintenance of roads because we already have road tax.
And it is not for encouraging Singaporeans to use public transport. Looking at the state of Singapore’s over-crowded public transport system, one could argue that one of the reasons why people wanted to own a car was because they didn’t want to endure the travails of public transport.
Put it this way, if the ERP was done away with, would our roads get any worse?
So my American friend might be correct. The ERP is a scam for the government to fill its coffers in the name of a more efficient road system.
And knowing our government, when it comes to making money, they will do it even at the expense of people’s privacy.
I don’t own a car by the way. So there’s no way the government could know where I went in the middle of the night in search of err…cigarettes.