Start of capacity reduction on vehicles ferrying employees

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A power curb has been lifted on vehicles ferrying workers. The change to remove the 25% reduction in carrying capacity is in line with the beginning of phase three of the reopening of Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday.

The reduction in maximum passenger capacity was announced in late May as the country set out to resume business after the circuit breaker, which ended on June 1.

There will remain other secure management steps in place. MOM said staff should continue to wear a mask in the vehicle at all times and that when on board, they should not speak or communicate.

Employers must also continue providing private transport to fly to and from their workplaces for staff living in dormitories. These vehicles are not permitted to transport any other passengers.

“These measures are necessary to prevent cross-infections between migrant workers living in dormitories and the community, in both directions,” said MOM.

“If necessary, employers should make provisions for additional trips or vehicles,” it said.

Over the past few months, the curb has had an impact both financially and operationally on employers.

Said Mr. Kenneth Loo, Straits Construction’s Chief Operating Officer: “If you decrease the capacity of each vehicle by 25 per cent, then the number of vehicles you require for transport must increase by at least 25 per cent as well, leading to higher financial costs as well as making operations more difficult as workers have to be transported separately.”

Although welcoming the lifting of the curb, he said of step three, “We cannot let our guard down and we need to be wary.”

In April, when ferrying staff on their lorries, 28 employers were each slapped with a $1,000 fine for failing to ensure compliance with healthy distancing measures.

A video of a lorry with partitions built to guarantee secure distance went viral online in May. The clip was part of a presentation video which was submitted to MOM for consultation as part of a proposal. Subsequently, MOM and LTA said the set-up was insecure and cautioned against its use.

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