On Saturday morning, ten men were transported to the hospital after a lorry accident in Upper Bukit Timah Road (April 24).
According to police, the 35-year-old driver and nine travellers, all of whom are believed to be foreign workers, were taken awake to the hospital.
Another lorry carrying migrant employees collided with a static tipper truck on the Pan-Island Expressway early Tuesday morning, just four days before. In that incident, two employees died and 15 were wounded.
An Emergency Call
At about 7.20 a.m. on Saturday, police were informed of an incident near The Rail Mall.
As per the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the injured, who ranged in age from 26 to 50, were taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. The story broke out on the news and was posted on The Strait Times and Asiaone.com Singapore.
The lorry was already on its side, with its cover on the ground, according to photos taken at the scene. The vehicle had several passengers seated next to it.
The police investigation is also underway.
The two accidents have prompted migrant worker advocacy organizations and members of the public to demand that safety regulations for transporting foreign workers be improved.
“Considering that all other road users are subject to strict road safety laws, transporting migrant workers like freight is inhumane and shameful,” she said, adding that Home has pressed the issue with both the Manpower Ministry and the public for years.
Employers may use lorries to transport staff between their homes and workplaces under the Road Traffic Act. According to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) One Motoring website, personnel on the carriage level of lorries must be “properly seated in a way that does not cause them to fall off the vehicle.”
Many argue that standards could be improved by making seat belts mandatory, for example.
“The majority of us have been entitled to the benefit of seat belts, and there is indisputable proof that seat belts will save lives,” said Dipa Swaminathan, founder of ItsRainingRaincoats. As a result, it is unjust that migrant workers are denied access to such a basic safety feature.”
She went on to say that seeking a holistic solution that resolved root problems for lorry drivers was also critical, noting that many of them were migrant workers who didn’t get enough sleep.
“Lorry drivers are always sleepy because they have to wake up early to pick up staff and end up rushing because their compensation will be compromised if they don’t arrive by 8 am,” said Mr. Zahirul Islam, safety coordinator, and uncle of Mr. Toffazal Hossain, who died in Tuesday’s crash.
Others argue that instead of lorries, workers should be transported to work by bus or van.
A Change.org petition calling for staff to be transported safely in buses or vans had received more than 4,900 signatures as of Sunday.
Following two incidents in which foreign employees were thrown from lorries, safety regulations were last strengthened in 2010. Three Chinese nationals in their 40s died in one of the accidents after the overcrowded lorry they were riding in skidded and tipped over.
The government pushed back the deadline for new legislation requiring lorries to add canopies and higher side railings to keep the staff from falling out due to public outcry.
However, due to increased maintenance costs, the LTA has revised its plans for lorry owners to increase the minimum deck space to 8 square feet for each seated staff.
Smaller contractors will have to bear the financial burden of purchasing more automobiles or contracting buses to ferry staff, according to Ho Nyok Yong, then-president of the Singapore Contractors Association.
The construction industry has been severely affected by delays in construction and housing developments ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. On April 22, new regulations on long-term ticket buyers and short-term tourists from India were announced, putting pressure on businesses in the construction, marine, process industries and Singapore online betting.