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Concerns raised over continued dangerous practice of ferrying migrant workers on lorries in Singapore

Former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong’s photo depicts a hazardous scene, emphasizing the need to ban transporting migrant workers on lorries.

A viral video also shows rain-drenched workers crammed at a lorry’s rear, sparking sympathy and underscoring the PAP government’s inaction on this pressing issue.



SINGAPORE: In recent times, there has been a growing concern regarding the safety of workers who are transported by lorries in Singapore.

This concern has ignited a nationwide debate, prompting both government and civil society organizations to release multiple statements on the matter.

Despite the pressing appeals from various quarters, including Singapore’s civil society, Members of Parliament, and advocates for migrant workers, calling upon the government to take immediate action to prohibit the practice of ferrying migrant workers on lorries, it is evident that the lack of action by the Singapore government has allowed the issue to persist without resolution.

Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Yee Jenn Jong, has captured a perilous scene that presents a compelling argument against any lengthy explanations or excuses from Singaporean authorities or business groups seeking to justify the continued practice of transporting migrant workers on lorries.

This incident stands as a powerful testament to the necessity of an outright ban.

Mr Yee shared a photo taken last Friday (18 Aug) morning, illustrating a lorry carrying a set of cupboards, with two workers seated at the back amid these seemingly unsecured cupboards.

Yee observed that the photo, captured in the CBD area clearly showed the top cupboard lying horizontally, devoid of any secure fastening. It was shaking as the lorry moved.

He emphasized that he did not even see any ropes securing the items in front of the workers. The limited space available to the two workers and the absence of safety measures make any abrupt braking maneuver potentially hazardous.

“How long more is a first-world nation going to allow this for?” he questioned.

Viral video depicting migrant workers sardine-packed at the rear of a lorry

Meanwhile, a video shared on Instagram by Singapore Incidents has rapidly gained traction, showcasing a distressing scene of migrant workers were sardine-packed at the rear of a lorry, devoid of seat belts or any safety provisions.

Despite the lorry having a canopy, two workers seated at the back found themselves drenched by heavy rain, compelling them to unfurl umbrellas in an attempt to shield themselves from the downpour.

The accompanying post lamented, “We implore LTA and MOM to change the safety of our foreign worker transportation. Is this how they should be treated?”

Outpouring of sympathy for migrant workers in viral video

In response to the viral video depicting the sardine-packed conditions faced by migrant workers, citizens have flooded in with heartfelt sympathy.

They emphasize that these workers have played a pivotal role in building Singapore and deserve far better treatment than what the current situation reflects in this supposed first-world country.

Many express their disappointment over the government’s lack of action and stress that the method of ferrying workers in such a manner is both unsafe and inhumane.

A comment wrote: “These are the people that make our shelters yet we don’t protect them.”

Another comment mocked that ‘some people’, potentially referring those lawmakers, should experience commuting to and from Parliament in a similar fashion to these migrant workers.

The comment said this would provide these lawmakers with a firsthand understanding of the conditions endured.

While an Instagram user pointed out a regulation by LTA mandating rain covers on lorries used to transport workers, others questioned the provision of safety seats for these workers.

Another user questioned, why have the employers not taken steps to improve the safety of transportation for our foreign workers?

100 groups and individuals urged the Singapore government to immediately ban the practice of ferrying migrant workers on lorries

On 18 and 19 July of this year, two tragic incidents happened and 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 accidents ignited a renewed call to halt the practice of transporting workers in lorries, with 100 groups and individuals endorsing two petitions last month.

Over 40 organizations and individuals, including migrant worker welfare groups, jointly addressed PM Lee, Mr Chee, and Dr Khor, condemning the government’s response as theatrics and handwringing, devoid of necessary seriousness and urgency.

In another show of dissent, a coalition of 57 local civil society organizations and community groups issued a joint statement on 26 July.

They criticized the government’s approach as comprising of “feeble steps” and distractions. They underscored the inherent risks and dignity-compromising conditions of transporting people in lorries, vehicles not designed for human transport.

In contrast, a coalition of 25 business bodies issued a joint statement on August 1st, expressing concerns over the ‘complexities’ associated with potential changes to worker transportation regulations.

They rejected the call from civil society, a move that disappointed many Singaporeans.

Amid intensifying pressure to impose a ban, seven Singaporean government agencies stressed the potential socio-economic repercussions in a joint statement issued on 2 August.

The Transport Ministry, Land Transport Authority, Manpower Ministry, Building and Construction Authority, Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Singapore Police Force jointly noted that a ban could potentially force many businesses to close, resulting in job losses for both Singaporean and migrant workers.

The agencies agreed, advocating for alternative transport arrangements and stressing the need to retain the current exception under the Road Traffic Act permitting the transportation of workers in lorries.

The authorities also highlighted the reduction in accidents involving lorries over recent years, attributing this to safety measures such as requiring the front passenger cabin to be fully occupied before using the rear deck.

Their focus, they insist, is on evidence-based strategies addressing factors behind accidents, such as driving behaviours and vehicle speed.

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Our govt. supports business not human lives. Xi, Modi and the Bangladesh PM are not protecting their own citizens.