SINGAPORE: Malaysian cargo drivers who ship necessities comparable to vegatables and fruits to Singapore have welcomed the transfer by the Singapore Government to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.
With the vaccination, they hope that ready time at the land checkpoints resulting from COVID-19 checks may be shortened.
On Monday (Mar 8), Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced that chosen cargo drivers and accompanying personnel who enter the nation from Malaysia regularly will be offered vaccinations later this month.
MOH stated that those that are eligible for the vaccination will be notified by way of a personalised SMS from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and can be contacted subsequently for an appointment to endure vaccination at designated websites in Singapore.
Mr Loo Chin Khong, who transports greens from Cameron Highlands to Singapore thrice every week, informed CNA he’s hopeful that he’ll be one of many drivers chosen for the vaccination.
Mr Loo stated: “So far I’ve not gotten any SMS that I will be selected but I do want to be vaccinated. Definitely, I’d take it if offered.”
“Vaccination will help us have peace of mind in our work. We interact with wholesalers and farmers across both sides of the border, so it is important to protect us and our families,” stated the 60-year-old, who lives together with his spouse and 10-year-old son in Cameron Highlands.
DRIVERS HOPEFUL CONGESTION AT CUSTOMS WILL EASE
Besides defending him and family members from getting contaminated, Mr Loo expressed hope that if he and lots of of his different Malaysia cargo driver colleagues get vaccinated, it would ease the processing time to clear customs at the Causeway when coming into Singapore.
In January, some drivers complained that they had been experiencing delays at the land entry checkpoints after Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) introduced that COVID-19 antigen rapid testing would be progressively rolled out for Malaysia cargo drivers delivering important items to Singapore.
READ: More than 3,000 chickens from Malaysia dead due to hot weather, checkpoint congestion, say poultry importers
In a joint assertion, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) stated the delays had been resulting from a mixture of things, together with “IT technical issues” by a COVID-19 testing service supplier.
Mr Loo recalled how the jam he skilled then was “horrendous” however he acknowledged that the state of affairs has since improved, with round two hours every time on common over the previous couple of weeks.
However, he nonetheless hoped this can be decreased additional with the vaccination.
“We can make (the clearing process) faster. Hopefully drivers who are vaccinated may no longer need to take the COVID-19 test, this will move things along,” added Mr Loo.
Another driver who wished to be recognized solely as Mr Muthukumar echoed related sentiments.
Mr Muthukumar, who transports vegatables and fruits from his hometown in Bidor, Perak to Singapore twice every week, can be optimistic that vaccinations for cargo drivers will ease Causeway congestion.
He stated that he experiences two to a few hours of congestion when coming into Singapore twice every week.
“Once we’re vaccinated, hopefully there will be no need for the COVID-19 tests, so the process coming into Singapore will be faster. It will just make the whole journey smoother overall,” stated Mr Muthukumar.
DRIVERS LOOKING FORWARD TO MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS BEING REDUCED
Mr Ok Sasikumar, a driver with SRGS Transport Agency who frequently transports vegatables and fruits from Johor to Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre in Singapore, informed CNA he’s hopeful that restrictions imposed on drivers can be decreased after the vaccination is rolled out.
“I hope that if I get selected (for vaccination) I can proceed with flower deliveries. From March last year, I was no longer allowed to deliver flowers, only vegetables and fruits,” added the 54-year-old.
Before March 2020, Mr Sasikumar would additionally ship flowers to a florist at Upper Thomson Road after dropping off vegatables and fruits at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre. However, he stated that flower deliveries had stopped following the pandemic as a result of he was not permitted to ship non-essentials.
“It’s added income for me, so I hope if I’m vaccinated, I am allowed to travel to other areas and make other deliveries,” stated Mr Sasikumar. “But pray I get selected first.”
Mr Muthukumar additionally hoped the drivers will be allowed to “move more freely” whereas delivering greens in Singapore, as soon as they’re vaccinated.
“Right now, the rules are tight. We can’t interact with wholesalers and we can’t travel around Singapore to buy food or for an unscheduled stop,” he stated.
“Hopefully if drivers are vaccinated, these restrictions will no longer be there,” added Mr Muthukumar.
QUICKER TO GET VACCINATED IN SINGAPORE THAN IN MALAYSIA: DRIVERS
Cargo drivers from Malaysia additionally stated that they might seemingly take up the provide to get vaccinated in Singapore as a result of they could want to attend longer for his or her flip in Malaysia.
Malaysia kicked off its nationwide COVID-19 immunisation programme on Feb 24. The programme, which goals to immunise 80 per cent of the inhabitants by February 2022, is split into three phases.
The first part, which encompasses medical and non-medical frontliners, will happen from February to April.
As of Monday, greater than 165,000 people have obtained the vaccine within the first part.
The second part, which runs from April till August, will cowl senior residents aged above 65 and different high-risk teams, whereas the ultimate part, from May till February subsequent 12 months, is focused at the overall grownup inhabitants aged 18 and above.
The cargo drivers CNA spoke to stated they might seemingly be vaccinated underneath Phase 3 as they don’t seem to be thought of frontliners.
Mr Sasikumar stated: “I’ve registered for the (immunisation) programme via the MySejahtera app but it’s not my turn yet. It could take months. If Singapore offers first, I’ll take it.”
Mr Loo shared related views.
He stated: “I think I will only be vaccinated under Phase 3 in Malaysia, and I prefer not to wait so long for this.”
“Since Singapore is able to arrange for me to get jabbed faster, I’ll do it if selected. I’m thankful the Singapore government is including us (in its vaccination programme) for free,” he added.