Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (14 May) said that the viral video of partitioning the workers on a lorry was a part of “demonstration video” and “proposal” that sent by a construction firm to MOM for consultation.
In a joint statement, the authorities said that they are aware of a video circulating online showing a company demonstrating their installation of partitions in the rear carriage of a lorry.
“We understand that the video was taken at the company’s workshop and the vehicle with the proposed partitions set-up has not been put into use yet,” the statement read.
However, it was noted that the authorities rejected the company’s proposal of setting up the partitions on the lorry while asking them to review their plan.
On Wednesday’s (13 May) afternoon, MOM contacted the company and clarified with them that it “was not secure” for the proposed set-up of the partitions in the rear of the lorry.
The authorities noted, “MOM and LTA have collectively assessed that any sudden movement while travelling on the roads might dislodge the partitions and endanger occupants as well as other road users.”
“We have informed the company of our assessment and advised them to review its plan,” it added.
At the same time, a specific guidance regarding the safe distancing measures for workers transported by lorries has been issued by MOM on its website for company to comply with.
With the new measures in place, each lorry is being permitted to carry fewer workers than before.
“We urge companies to reach out to the authorities to seek necessary clarification on safe distancing measures for lorries. Those who wish to report on workplace safety issues may submit their feedback through [email protected] or SnapSAFE mobile application,” the authorities said.
Company behind the video apologised, saying partitioned lorry arrangement in the “demo video” was one of the solutions in the midst of crisis
Separately, Shin Khai Construction Pte Ltd, who said to be the responsible company of this viral video, took to its Facebook on Thursday, acknowledging that the video of partitioned lorry arrangement circulating in social media was an “internal demo video”.
The company said that they were “surprised” of the “received interest in the video and comments from online netizens.”
“While some comments are encouraging, we regret to hear that the video might have portrayed the way we treated our workers as inhumane and without care. We wished to issue an apology on this,” it wrote on it post.
As a result of possible labour crunch and contactless work method due to COVID-19 pandemic, the company said that construction industry was “under immense challenge”.
Hence the company was trying to find solutions in the midst of this crisis and the partitioned lorry arrangement in the demo video was one of them, it added.
Shin Kai Construction then said, “As we need to conform to the safe distancing rules, our lorry capacity was greatly reduced from 23 pax to 6 pax, which will be of a great concern for our built environment. We were also advised to do more trips to ferry our workers if need to.”
As such, the company hoped to propose a design to the authority which can allow them to increase the capacity to 12 pax.
“This will help in reducing workers waiting time, delay in these event and other traffic issues,” they explained.
Shin Kai Construction said that they are currently appealing to the authority in hope to consider their proposal.
“We are also open to discussion with the authority on this,” it added.
The act of partitioning workers on a lorry drew flak and questions from netizens
The video and photo showing the workers sitting on a partitioned lorry was shared by Raj Singh on his Facebook page. His caption noting that this practice is stupid even though social distance is important.
He wrote, “In fact it’s showing people exactly what they think of foreign workers- animals.” and added that lorries should be stopped from transporting people
Netizens also questioned the act of partitioning the workers on a lorry, whether it is safe for the workers to be seated in this manner and could limit the virus transmission since COVID-19 could be spread through the air.