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Viral video of workers sitting between partitions on lorry was a proposal that was rejected: MOM, LTA

SINGAPORE — A viral video of a group of workers sitting between partitions at the back of a lorry was part of a proposal sent by a construction company, said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) and the Land Transport Authority in a statement on Thursday (May 14).

Viral video of workers sitting between partitions on lorry was a proposal that was rejected: MOM, LTA

A still from a video circulating showing workers sitting between partitions at the back of a lorry.

SINGAPORE — A viral video of a group of workers sitting between partitions at the back of a lorry was part of a proposal sent by a construction company, said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a statement on Thursday (May 14).  

The statement added that the proposal by Shin Khai Construction on how to ferry their workers at the back of a lorry while maintaining safe distancing had been rejected. 

“We understand that the video was taken at the company's workshop and the vehicle with the proposed partition set-up has not been put into use yet,” the agencies said in response to queries from TODAY. 

The video, which started making its rounds on Wednesday, showed more than six workers sitting at the back of a lorry separated by hinged wooden partitions, with each worker sitting in what resembled a cell. 

MOM said it told the company on Wednesday that the proposed set-up of the partitions in the rear of the lorry was not secure. It was advised to review its plan for ferrying workers.  

“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,” said the statement. 

Since April 10, the MOM has made it a requirement for employers and lorry owners to cater for a 1m space between workers who are seated at the back of lorries to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. 

This will mean each lorry will be permitted to carry fewer workers than before. 

On Thursday, Shin Khai Construction issued an apology on its Facebook page and expressed “surprise” at the interest the video had garnered.

“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,” said the company. “We wish to issue an apology on this.”

It added that the Covid-19 pandemic was immensely challenging for the construction industry because of the possible labour crunch and the need for contactless work methods. It said it was trying to find solutions in the midst of the crisis and the partitioned lorry arrangement was among them.  

Shin Khai Construction said its lorry capacity had been greatly reduced from 23 passengers to six.

“In lieu of the considerations as above, we hope to propose to (the authorities) on our design, so that we can increase the capacity to 12,” it said. 

“This will help in reducing workers’ waiting time... and other traffic issues.”

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Covid-19 MOM LTA foreign workers construction

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