Company apologizes for DIY-distancing lorry, says it was ‘prototype’

Workers demonstrate exiting the lorry one by one. Image: All Singapore Stuff/Facebook
Workers demonstrate exiting the lorry one by one. Image: All Singapore Stuff/Facebook

A construction company apologized today for loading workers into a lorry with makeshift partitions after it was criticized as unsafe and inhumane.

Workers were seen entering and exiting 12 spaces created by hinged wooden panels in a bid to maintain social distancing in footage yesterday.

But while the innovation may get points for effort, it wasn’t taken well by the public, some of whom said it was immoral and not safe. The company, Shin Khai Construction, responded to the backlash in a statement earlier today.

“We are surprised that we have 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 inhumanely and without care. We wished to issue an apology on this,” the post read.

Morning All,

Recently, there was an internal demo video of our partitioned lorry arrangement circulating in social…

Posted by Shin Khai Construction Pte Ltd on Wednesday, 13 May 2020

That was after a number of people griefed the sorry-looking conveyance.

Facebook user Teo Soon commented that it made the workers look like animals.

“It looks like ferrying pigs to the slaughterhouse,” Teo wrote.

The company told Coconuts Singapore that the lorry was a prototype and not in use.

“We would also like to stress that this model is a prototype that is thought of internally and is not implemented as of current stage,” the company said in a statement.

The company declined to respond to other questions pertaining to the origin of the video and where they intended to transport the workers to and from.

The idea was one of the solutions it was trying out to solve the problem of transporting many workers safely during pandemic conditions.

“As we need to conform to the safe distancing rules, our lorry capacity was greatly reduced from 23 [people] to 6 [people], 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,” the statement continued.

“Our intentions as an employee orientated business focuses on our employees well being amidst the current situation, keeping our firm active during this period,” it said.

With few exceptions, all construction work has been suspended as part of Singapore’s virtual lockdown since April 7. This has resulted in several projects being delayed months due to the drop in manpower as well.

Since the outbreak began, Singapore has counted 25,346 infections. Of those, 23,442 were dorm residents and work pass holders. The official death toll stands at 21, excluding a number of patients whose deaths were not directly attributed to the virus.

Other stories you should check out:
Nurses step up, go all in on morning dance for recovering workers
Look inside Singapore’s exhibition hall turned hospital (Photos)
20,000 workers may be discharged by June as dorm outbreaks continue
MOH says 35 people misdiagnosed with COVID-19

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