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First World and We still transport workers in lorries

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

Singapore announced some new rules stating that these would improve the safety for workers who are travelling in lorries. These rules will commence 1st January 2023.

1) Lorries transporting workers must have rain covers

2) If the driver is also a worker, he must get at least 30minutes rest before he sends the other workers in the lorry back to their dormitories.

We also should not forget the announcement to install speed management devices on lorries. So far that issue has remained incomplete. Discussions are still ongoing.

According to Minister Dr Amy Khor, se said the new measures (rain covers and driver getting rest) are “practical and effective and can be readily and widely implemented on the ground”.

However the main issue is that workers will still be transported in lorries. In many other countries including 3rd world countries, workers are already being transported in buses and vans. Buses and vans are designed to ferry humans. Lorries are not.

Thankfully the migrant worker groups voiced out that the new measures do not address the core issue. The issue that lorries are unsafe.

As for drivers who are also workers, they will have to rest at least 30 minutes before driving – if they have worked six hours or more on-site. There will also be a designated “vehicle buddy” who will check if the driver is fit to drive and make sure he remains alert while driving.

Ministry Dr Khor cited practical constraints when asked about installing seatbealts.

“To install the seat-belts may affect the structural integrity and stability of lorries and pose danger or risk to the drivers and passengers. The dealers and workshops have also told us that modifying the vehicles could lead to potential liability issues, such as the voiding of warranty,”

Ok we do agree, modifying vehicles could lead to potential liability issues.

However has anyone checked with the manufacturers whether they accept humans being carried on the back of the trucks and lorries?

We all know that at the start of a work day, drivers rush to work and at the end of a work driver drivers will be rushing back. Whether they are local drivers or workers driving lorries. It would be really hard to control speeds of lorries without Speed Warning Devices or Speed Limiting Devices. It would still be hard for drivers not to be sleepy or tired (or Distracted- if the Vehicle buddy was a friend)

Singapore says it wants a safer workplace, but then it allows this.

Its exactly like wanting safer roads, but allowing discretionary right turns that create accidents to exist.

A quote from Dr Stephanie Chok, executive committee member of non-profit organisation Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), said the new measures are “grossly inadequate”.

“Yes, drivers must be well-rested... But this is different from calls to make transport safer for migrant workers because sitting on the open cargo deck of lorries is an inherently unsafe way to travel,” she added.

“If we value human lives like we say we do, then we need to commit to a timeline and direct resources to make sure workers are transported safely in buses at some time in the future.”

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