SINGAPORE: 47 collective groups and concerned members of the public issued a joint statement urging the government to establish a clear timeline of measures for banning the use of lorries to transport workers and to ensure their safe transportation on vehicles equipped with seats and seat belts.
On 18 and 19 July of this year, a total of 37 workers were injured, with 26 people taken to the hospital on the first day and an additional 11 on the following day. These incidents involved lorries transporting migrant workers.
The tragic incidents have raised serious concerns about the safety of migrant workers during transportation. While commending the government’s efforts to enhance worker safety on the roads, the signatories emphasize that the continued practice of ferrying workers on lorries poses grave risks.
The group urges the removal of Road Traffic Act (RTA) exception allowing the transportation of workers on lorries
“We urgently call upon the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to consider worker safety on roads and provide a timeline to ban this unsafe practice in the future, by removing the Road Traffic Act (RTA) exception that allows for workers to be transported on lorries, so that everyone is subject to the same passenger safety rules on our roads. ”
Currently, the RTA exception allows workers to be transported on lorries, despite lorries not being designed for passenger transport.
The absence of proper seating and safety measures, such as seat belts, increases the vulnerability of workers during travel.
“As lorry original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have themselves stated, lorries are not designed to carry passengers, and the absence of appropriate seating and safety measures (such as belts) places the lives of workers in jeopardy,” the statement said.
While guidelines exist to secure equipment on lorries, there are no specific provisions for the safe transportation of migrant workers.
The Safe Loading on Vehicles Guidelines outline stringent precautions to prevent hazards to other road users, including the use of restraints and tie-downs. However, these measures do not adequately ensure the safety of workers.
According to the statement, the recent inter-agency advisory on safe transportation of workers issued on 31 December last year, addressed some concerns but failed to address the root cause – the unsafe transportation of workers on lorries.
In their joint statement, the signatories emphasize the urgent need to address this issue and ensure the safety of all workers, regardless of their nationality or occupation.
“Our workers deserve to be transported safely, as their contributions are integral to Singapore’s growth and prosperity, and their lives and continued employment are essential to their families. ”
“By communicating an intention to ban this unsafe practice according to a timeline, we can send a powerful message about our commitment to ensuring the well-being of all workers in Singapore, regardless of their nationality or occupation. ”
“We must build a society where empathy guides our actions, and where every individual can work and live in safety and dignity. ”
The group strongly urges the Singapore government to fulfill the city-state’s obligation under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 8.8, which aims to protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers.
“We hope that MOT will consider the aforementioned call in order to keep all people safe on roads. ”
Endorsers of the joint statement included:
- A Good Space Limited
- Adelina Koh Kui Hong
- Aespadas Technologies
- Anthea Ong, former Nominated Member of Parliament
- Aphasia SG
- Arthur Tan
- Change Our World
- Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC)
- Doreen Ning
- Dr Muntasir Mannan Choudhury, The Wandering Dervishes
- Eastside Mutual Aid
- Erica Lai
- Henrietta Woo
- Here With You Social Services
- Humanitarian Organisation of Migrant Economies (HOME)
- Hush TeaBar
- IRB law corporation
- Jack Sim, Bop Hub
- Kai Ning
- Kavitha Krishnan
- Kok Heng Leun, Artist, Former NMP
- Leow Yangfa
- Maya Dance Theatre
- Migrant Worker Centre
- Miriam Yu
- My Brothers SG
- Priscilla Goh
- Project Chulia Street
- Quasa SG
- Quek Wan Ting
- Sama Sama
- Sanif Olek, Film maker
- Serena Ho
- SDI Academy
- SG Climate Rally
- Sg Food Rescue
- SG Mental Health Matters
- Shabir Music Asia Pte Ltd
- Starlight Collective
- Students for A Fossil Free Future
- Timbre Music Academy
- Transient Workers Count 2 (TWC2)
- Welcome In My Backyard (WIMBY)