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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Thousands of chickens die following delays at Singapore checkpoint, says report


Authorities in Singapore say cargo volume coming into Singapore has returned to pre-Covid-19 levels. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Thousands of chickens died last week after long delays at the Tuas checkpoint while they were being transported from Malaysia to Singapore, the Straits Times (ST) reported.

Poultry importers said the chickens were believed to have died from the heat as well as due to the cramped conditions they were kept in on the lorries transporting them into the republic.

According to the importers, the cargo drivers had been experiencing delays since Monday but the congestion became worse on Wednesday and Thursday.

Oh Wei Chiat, chief operating officer at Boong Poultry, told the daily that he had about four to five trucks of chickens coming into Singapore from Johor almost every day.

He said 6% to 10% of the chickens in each lorry, which comes to about 200-300 chickens, did not survive the journey.

“One reason is due to the heat. They are also trapped in a limited space for a long time. It takes two to three hours to reach the checkpoint, followed by about 12 hours stuck in the congestion.

“And they are without food and drink, because we don’t usually feed the chickens before transporting them,” he was quoted as saying by ST.

Another importer, Toh Thye San Farm director Johnson Toh said about 2,000 chickens died after a delay of between nine and 11 hours at the checkpoint over the two days.

He added, however, that the situation had improved since Friday.

“The delays are shorter. But we will have to wait for the next week to see if the situation really improves,” Singapore’s Poultry Merchant’s Association chairman Ong Kian Sun told ST.

Meanwhile, Oh said he had changed his delivery schedules to ensure his chickens have a better chance at surviving.

“Instead of starting the journey in the morning, we will start queuing at the checkpoint from midnight so the weather won’t be so unbearable for the chickens,” he said.

The relevant authorities across the causeway – immigration and checkpoints authority, ministry of trade and industry, and the Singapore food agency – issued a joint statement on Friday saying that they were aware of the congestion experienced by cargo drivers at the Tuas checkpoint.

They attributed the delays to a combination of factors, including the fact that cargo volume had returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.

“And with the continued closure of Malaysia’s Bangunan Sultan Iskandar from 7pm to 7am, as well as the upcoming Lunar New Year, the overall cargo volume is now more concentrated at certain times of the day, leading to traffic bunching,” the statement said.

The authorities added that the Covid-19 testing service provider had also encountered technical issues on Wednesday.

Since Jan 22, cargo drivers entering Singapore at land checkpoints have had to take a Covid-19 antigen rapid test (ART). Anyone with a positive test is not allowed to enter.

As a result of the technical issues, the service provider had to fall back on manual verification of the test results, which added to the clearance time. - FMT

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