Over 20 business groups wrote to PM Lee and others regarding the ban of workers to be transported at the back of lorries; MOT responded with a press release.

A joint statement was released by 25 business bodies earlier this week (1 August), highlighting the potential “complexities” arising from a proposed ban on the transportation of workers by lorry. Prominent among these bodies are the Singapore Contractors Association (SCAL), the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), the Association of Process Industry (ASPRI), and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF).

Their announcement is a response to a prior joint statement from an additional 100 groups, which demanded an immediate ban on the use of lorries to transport workers. This call to action was prompted by “recent accidents,” as reported by MustShareNews on 26 July.

Seek for “Careful considerations”

In the joint statement addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat, and Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor, the bodies urged for “careful considerations” from the government. 

They emphasised potential “complexities” that could result from implementing such a ban.

Although the precise nature of these “complexities” remains unclear, a report published by The Straits Times suggests that the ban could hinder the work processes of companies that rely on these workers to fulfill daily tasks and duties.

As stated in the report, it has “potential to acutely affect industries that have historically relied on this practice, leading to potential delays in completing projects and risking the livelihoods of workers who depend on these industries for their employment,”

Some netizens slammed with a counter argument – Money may be the root-cause (cost) 

Shortly after the article was posted on the Facebook pages of Today and CNA on August 1, netizens began offering alternative suggestions for these companies, effectively countering the issued statement.

One comment from Today’s Facebook page argued that financial considerations were at the root of compromising safety.

Another user highlighted the real-world implications of the issue, stating, “There is also the real cost of doing business. Switching to coaches or buses may sound practical, but the cost increase will eventually have to be borne by consumers.”

Screengrab from Today Online / Facebook

Alongside comments from netizens criticizing the statement as “unethical” and a major compromise on worker safety, Singapore’s Ambassador-At-Large, Prof. Tommy Koh, also voiced his views on the ban.

In a Facebook post that ignited considerable discussion, he asserted, “The real reason for their opposition is money. It will increase their costs of doing business if they are required to transport their foreign workers in vehicles with seats and seat belts.”  He further cautioned,“We should not be misled by their campaign.”

Screengrab from Tommy Koh / Facebook

In response, some people argue that these additional costs might be unnecessary. They suggest that the implementation of additional transportation methods, like busing, could “add about $300 per head per month.”

A comment that has garnered substantial support from readers received agreement that this issue may boil down to safe driving practices, which could potentially eliminate all the safety hazards posed by these lorries.

Screengrab from Tommy Koh / Facebook

Ministry Of Transport issued a joint response to Media inquiries 

On 2 August, the Ministry Of Transport issued a joint response to the media inquiries they had received.

In a detailed press release consisting of 10 points, the ministry emphasized, “The Government shares the objective of enhancing safety for every worker,” and acknowledged, “While it’s not ideal for workers to be transported on lorries, we understand the genuine concerns of employers.”

They proceeded to underscore the potential repercussions of not completing projects, such as the construction of housing, MRT stations, and Polyclinics, due to additional costs that companies might incur.

In their final point, the ministry reaffirmed their commitment to “improving safety for all road users and working with stakeholders, including NGOs, to develop practical solutions that best serve the interests of our workers, protecting their safety and livelihoods.”

Although the press release does not explicitly state whether a ban on transporting workers on lorries will be implemented, it implies an ongoing concern under active review by the government.

Screengrab from Ministry Of Transport website / mot.gov.sg

The rise of accidents involving lorries 

Despite the lack of a concrete response to these statements, the safety issues concerning workers transported by lorries on our roads daily are widely recognised.

There has been a concerning increase in traffic-related accidents involving lorries. In one particularly alarming incident in July this year, a collision involving three lorries led to 26 men being sent to the hospital.

Screengrab from The Straits Times

Let’s practice defensive driving and stay safe 

While authorities are working on addressing this pressing issue concerning the safety of many lives on the road, it’s crucial that we all practice safe driving habits and remain alert at all times.

Have a story to share ?

Be it an incident that you encountered on the road or any motoring stories you might have, reach out to us at writer@roads.sg 


Featured Image from Today Online,  2010 / Today File Photo 

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