China Bus Drivers: Licence to drive or “kill?”

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An unknown Singapore bus company recruited more than 100 PRC drivers from the city of Xi’an, Shaanxi province last year. Happy Recruitment Group Photo!

That photo above shows only 100 over China drivers and we have got so many accidents and wrongly driven bus routes. Imagine 1,000 over of them coming here to exacerbate our current headaches! I leave it to your imagination.

Photo from Temasek Times.

The government in its recent budget statement has announced $1.1 billion handout to the two major profit making transport operators. This is to purchase extra 800 more buses.

Let’s not go into the details of using taxpayers’ money for the duopoly transport operators. It’s been decided and the budget has been allocated. So no point harping over it.

It’s the consequence of this policy that matters. About 1,600 bus drivers are needed to run the 800 buses. Two drivers per bus on two shifts. As it is the two giant PTOs are already facing problems in recruiting and retaining bus drivers. The extra 1,600 drivers will add to more manpower woes.

Those smart scholars in the two PTOs incidentally owned by GLCs (major shareholders) had it thought out. So they go to China to recruit more cheap drivers.

As simple as that!

No locals want to take the job right, there are lots of them in China. Keep on importing more cheap drivers to drive those state of art huge Bentley buses.

Those smart corporate scholars only know about bottom line and cost cutting measures to maximize returns. Locals may not want to take up the driver job at $1,200 but lots of China workers clamoring for it. Even Malaysians used to drive our buses are now quite reluctant to take up the job.

They don’t bother about the suitability of those foreign drivers. They may be qualified to drive but are they suitable or accustomed to local conditions? Don’t forget also they are ‘left hand’ drivers! Their driving orientation system and ours are totally different. They drive on the opposite side of the road.

You try driving a ‘left hand drive’ vehicle in the states. Then you will understand the dire danger I’m warning about. Our road signs are in English and we have one of the world’s highest vehicle population density here. After a short orientation they expect those China drivers to drive like a professional? Pipe dream or figment of their wild imagination? They just don’t care or bother at all as long as they put monkeys there to operate the buses by paying them peanuts!

The GIC based PTOs are satisfied so is the MOM cuz the latter got more levies coming in to government coffers! The more FTs the more levies they rake in. Locals don’t earn them levies. That is the mentality in our society. They are addicted to cheap FTs and levies. Cheap solution to this perennial transport problem at the expense of citizens.

If I were to drive to Malaysia even though conditions are quite similar to Singapore, I also lack the full confidence. I got to be extra alert and careful. Most of the road signs in Malaysia are in Malay. I’m not driving a public bus but on my own personal ‘bone shaker.’ That is the difference. I could afford to take my time and no tight schedule or public safety to consider.

Those Chinese drivers have never been here before. Many of them are leaving their hometown for the first time to work here at a much lower pay – company got to pay levy per head – than our locals. They will be here on short term contracts. They will treat Singapore roads like “gold mine” and work the maximum hours of overtime.

Just like those smart management staff in PTOs, China drivers will also want to maximize their time here going all out to work like bulls! After a short orientation of route learning & familiarization, they are put on our public roads to drive those big public buses. Licence to drive or “kill?”

Old lady killed by China bus driver in Sengkang.

Another bus accident. School boy got knocked down by bus.

The above scenario is frighteningly true if only we just pause to think deeper. The 800 new super buses with the 1,600 China drivers are not here yet. But then some of their compatriots are already here – having been recruited earlier.

Within a short time, there are already 2 major accidents involving current China drivers. Is this not a warning of more portends to come? Are we not importing “terrors” on our public roads with those China drivers treating our public roads as “gold mine?” Do the PTOs and government care about other road users’ safety or the passengers taking those buses?

I have colleagues from the north who harbour the same mentality of treating this 700 sq km place as a gold mine only to retire back home comfortably with tons of money to buy land, house or set up a small business. I do not see any difference between our northern neighbors and those China drivers.

We will have to minimize using our public roads or be extra careful of those run away terrors! Good luck to all of you sharing public road space with them.

Govt, Transport Minister and LTA just don’t get it!

The blogger in the above link has written a very incisive article on our present transport woes. Why not let private mini buses ply our roads on a similar basis like Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is similar in size and population density to us. We could study how well they manage their transport system. Why must the government pump in $1.1 billion of public money to prop up two major GIC PTOs in a duopoly market leading to so much hue and cry from the public?

What’s wrong with the government and LTA mindset? They suffer from this group think mentality. They just can’t get out of the box when it comes to solving our transport woes. So many Transport Ministers come and go yet the problem gets worse and worse until they resorted to pump in billions and recruiting even more cheap China drivers leaving our own citizens jobless by depressing the wages further!

Will it solve the problem? I doubt so. I’m not alone. Many are skeptical including that blogger telling the Transport Minister and LTA to wake up their idea!

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7 Responses to China Bus Drivers: Licence to drive or “kill?”

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 12 Apr 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  2. worldclass says:

    Bear in mind, we are world class.
    http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/lta/Corporate/doc/white%20paper.pdf

    More accidents? Bring in more numbers to replace the dead.
    More good years ahead!
    Confidence for the future!

    • Loopholes says:

      They can go on strike collectively if they felt our bus operators owe them too much in future. PRC are good at doing that and they have strong camaraderie to pull our country down. That lies the issue of over reliance of foreigners who have no stake in this country. PAP has poor foresight and getting self-screwed. Let’s hope to bring more sense to 60% daft voters on this recurring issues resulted from bad policies.

  3. Padaly says:

    Gentlemen,
    Thks for the comments. Importing cheap FTs to prop up our economy is already bad. If they are in other industries eg food business or hospitality business not so bad. But to put them on our public roads when they don’t speak or understand simple English is even worst – nightmare I say. Many coming here for the 1st time in their life and they will driving those “killer” machines on our public roads. I wonder how many more of us going to be maimed or “killed” by them? It’s madness to bring FTs on our public roads. We are creating another hellhole for us! I’m no scholar nor highly educated yet I could see thru all these. Why can’t THEY see thru the consequences? Are they blinded by greed?
    Maybe our good Professor Lim C Y was right after all. Increase drastically the pay of low end workers then we need not resort to cheap FTs!
    Just ask anybody working in PSA. They get those Burmese (University graduates) to drive those prime movers (tow heads) trucking containers inside / within PSA compound. They work very long hours like slaves and are paid pittance. But they had no choice cuz there was no job back home. At least they are confined to PSA. Those working inside PSA will know how many accidents happening there with the whole truck diving into the sea!
    It’s a shame for any self respecting country to exploit cheap labour for GDP growth! I see no difference with those days of slavery where the western powers exploited them in working on plantations and mines!
    Don’t forget also those 1,600 or more bus drivers got needs – physical and mental / emotional needs. They are still humans after all – not machines. They need a place to stay, socialize, medical, recreational etc. we will be sharing or fighting for space with them either in the food courts, beaches, and yes hospital beds! Now u know why one of our MIWs says there always be shortage of beds no matter how many hospitals they built!
    We have tolerated enough propaganda abt the benefits to citizens when the floodgates are open for cheap FTs disguised as the globalisation! My foot! Actually those GICs will benefit such as mobile operators cuz they need to call back home and public transport operators themselves cuz got more ridership etc etc
    You judge for yourself. You see for yourself the folly of pumping $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money with its crazy repercussion all in a vicious cycle affecting our Eco-system and society. It is not as simple as getting tons of cheap foreign labour to solve the problem. This is what we call short cuts and cutting corners with much more unknown evils coming on our way. May God Bless You!

  4. Founding Father says:

    Please say thanks to our “Founding Father”. He had founded the mini PRC empire in Singapore. The people he believes are far superior than us

  5. Singaporeans Deserve Better! says:

    I have ONE question – WHY ARE WE RECRUITING BUS DRIVERS ALL THE WAY FROM CHINA? Is it because there are not enough applicants from neighbouring Malaysia or Brunei or is it because the authorities want to maintain the 76% Chinese majority population? What happened to the regardless of language, race or religion?

    I remember reading recently a Chinese professor at the Chinese Uni saying that Singapore is going to continue recruit from China to maintain the majority population statistic at the expense of the safety of Singaporeans on public roads.

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