With the recent travel restrictions being imposed in Malaysia, SBS Transit Ltd has requested its Malaysian bus drivers to stay in Singapore and to be housed in a hotel for two weeks until the restriction order is lifted.
Earlier on 16 March, the Malaysian government announced a nationwide restricted movement order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country which will take effect starting 18 to 31 March. The restriction order includes prohibitions on both outbound and inbound travel.
TOC received the information via an announcement by a SBS Transit spokesperson to its bus captains (BCs) at the Ang Mo Kio bus depot last night.
In his announcement, spokesperson requested the BCs to stay in the resting area of the depots that are situated in Singapore for two weeks due to the travel restrictions in Malaysia.
TOC also received a photo of the resting room at the Ang Mo Kio bus depot with recliner chairs for the BCs. This was earlier supposed to be designated area for the Malaysian BCs staying behind.
The spokesperson also said the company will provide the necessary facilities and subsidize S$20 per day for the BCs who are willing to stay.
“I know it’s a very difficult situation, nobody expected the Malaysian government to put up a very sudden change like this,” he said to the BCs.
He noted that the company will impose a no-pay leave for those who are unwilling to stay in Singapore for the two weeks but it is not compulsory for the BCs to take up the offer as they will retain their jobs after the restrictions are lifted.
The BCs, however, expressed their concerns over the company’s promise as there is no official agreement being made at the moment.
Just today, the BCs received a written notice from the company which stated that “90% of trips must be operated” and the bus drivers will be accommodated in the hotel room.
It also stated that those who choose to stay in Malaysia will have to take annual leave or no-pay leave for the two weeks.
“If you are planning to stay overnight, please pack your essentials and cross the border before 11pm tonight as we are expecting many more Malaysians who are in Singapore to do the same,” it said.
Meanwhile, TOC had also sent a media query to the SBS in regard to the arrangements made for the bus drivers.
Following the report, SBS made a clarification on Facebook earlier today (17 March) that it has secured temporary accommodation at several hotels for the Malaysian BCs.
“Contrary to an online report, our BCs will not be made to sleep on recliner chairs in our depots,” it said, adding that the temporary accommodation will take effect immediately to ensure that scheduled bus services are not affected.
“We remain committed to protecting the welfare of both our BCs and commuters,” it noted.
According to a spokesperson from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the authority has worked closely with our public transport operators and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) to secure short-term accommodation for the Malaysian public transport workers who would like to continue working in Singapore after Malaysia’s Movement Control Order comes into effect.
It is also said that the majority of Malaysian public transport workers who usually commute to work here have opted to continue working here and they will be staying at the accommodation the operators have arranged for them.
LTA also shared its deep appreciate for their efforts to keep Singapore’s public transport services running.
The impact on Singapore’s train and bus operations is expected to be limited for now, though there may be degradation of some bus services, said LTA.
LTA and the public transport operators have shared that they are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will adjust their responses accordingly to minimise the impact on the commuters and workers.