Traffic jams at the Tuas Checkpoint have been happening the past two days due to Malaysian cargo drivers and other accompanying passengers entering Singapore having to undergo the Covid-19 testing, resulting in delays.
Sin Chew Daily reported it can take up to 13 hours to travel from the farms in Malaysia to the slaughterhouses in Singapore due to the recent traffic jams.
On. Jan. 28, the Poultry Merchant's Association chairman Ong Kian San disclosed to Lianhe Zaobao that affected merchants complained that a lorry was caught in the jam at the Tuas Checkpoint for around 18 hours on Jan. 27.
More chickens continue to die in jam
According to Ong, the lorry was stuck for a full 18 hours, causing around 3,500 chickens to die from suffocation.
Ong added that Singapore has a total of 10 chicken slaughterhouses that were affected by this incident, one of which belongs to him.
The 2,300 live chickens that suffocated to death the previous day had already resulted in losses amounting to tens of thousands Singapore dollars.
A small number of ducks also reportedly suffocated to death due to prolonged confinement.
According to Ong's knowledge, there were more live chickens suffocating to death in the lorries at the checkpoints on Jan. 28, but the figures have yet to be confirmed.
Another slaughterhouse affected
Speaking to Sin Chew Daily, Tan Koon Seng, the chairman of another affected poultry slaughterhouse explained that a total of 15 lorries will deliver chickens to his slaughterhouse everyday during normal times.
According to Tan, the lorries would start to arrive at the slaughterhouse one after another at around 6am.
Tan added that all the chicken handling processes would be complete by 5pm and the drivers can pack the chicken cages and return back to Malaysia.
But due to the severe traffic jam on Jan. 27, the first lorry arrived at the slaughterhouse only at 9am that day, and the last lorry was so late that it only arrived between 9pm to 10pm.
As a result, the slaughtering and supply chain was affected.
"Most of the chickens in the lorry that arrived late had suffocated to death," Tan said.
Tan also disclosed that the situation on Jan. 28 was even worse.
Lorries start journey earlier in response
Learning from their "lesson", the farm lorries started their journey at 9pm the previous night to queue at the Tuas Second Link.
However, it was already 12pm by the time the earliest lorry arrived at the slaughterhouse.
According to Tan, each lorry can carry approximately 3,500 live chickens and 30 to 40 per cent of the chickens in the lorry have died.
The slaughterhouse chairman does not know who should bear the losses of these incidents.
He said that being stuck in the jam for 13 hours before arriving to the destination is unbearable even for the driver, let alone the chickens in the lorry.
Drivers unwilling to drive to Singapore
He added, in order to be more understanding and sympathetic towards the drivers who are stuck in the jam for prolonged periods, they have prepared food and water for them in the past two days.
Tan believes, if the situation does not improve, Singaporean chicken merchants would definitely be affected and Singaporeans would not have any chickens to eat in the worst-case scenario.
He said: "The drivers are unwilling to make the delivery, as being stuck in the jam for a prolonged period would be detrimental to their mental health."
Tan also said he hopes that the Malaysia and Singapore governments can co-operate to resolve the traffic jam problems at the checkpoints.
Tan shared that as much as he remains supportive of the Singapore government's preventive measures against Covid-19 and does not blame the Singapore government for imposing new tests to protect its citizens, he questions the necessity of testing the same lorry driver everyday.
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Top images via Sin Chew Daily.