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.
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?”
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.
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!