SINGAPORE – Up till Sunday (Jan 31), the Singapore Flyer had been but a distant icon in the cityscape for migrant worker M.V. Maran, seen from his construction site in Sengkang for around a year.
“I am used to seeing the Singapore Flyer from the Build-To-Order flats that I work on in Sengkang; now I can see the flats we work on from (up) here,” said the 30-year-old construction worker from inside a capsule of the landmark observation wheel.
He was among 620 migrant workers from dormitories treated to the ride on Sunday (Jan 31), thanks to locals who donated tickets redeemed with their SingapoRediscover vouchers.
“After getting my ticket around a week ago, I have been counting down to this day,” added Mr Maran, who has worked in Singapore for the past nine years on five construction projects, including River Safari.
Some 4,307 tickets have been donated by the public and another 2,871 by an institutional donor in an initiative organised by ItsRainingRaincoats (IRR), Klook and Singapore Flyer. Tickets cost $35 each on the Klook booking site.
IRR, a non-profit that aims to spread kindness to migrant workers, said the drive has been very popular among migrant workers. However, the tickets donated as at Sunday will allow less than 1 per cent of around one million migrant workers here to visit the Flyer.
IRR coordinated the trips with employers, and its volunteers facilitated the visit to ensure safe distancing. Each ride was capped at eight people.
After their ride, many of the workers excitedly shared photos of the skyline or called home.
Admin assistant Nazrul Islam from GS Engineering and Construction Corporation, 42, added: “I think this is a very good activity. I hope that more of my friends can visit this.”
For some of the foreign workers, this was their first time venturing this far outside their dormitories since they were isolated in mid-April due to the spread of Covid-19.
A worker at HP Construction & Engineering who wanted to be known as Mr Saravanan, 39, said: “Sometimes it’s very stressful to be stuck in the dormitory… We are thankful to Singaporeans, the Singapore Government and our company for this opportunity to go out to feel happy and de-stress.”
Since Oct 31, eligible migrant workers can visit recreation centres on their rest days.
Government representatives welcomed the scheme and urged more Singaporeans to organise such outings for the workers.
Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann, who spoke to some of the workers on Sunday, said: “I’m very glad that so many public donors have chipped in… and they believe that this is a really good way to show our appreciation and recognition of migrant workers.”
Mr Tung Yui Fai, chief of the Manpower Ministry’s Assurance, Care and Engagement Group, added: “We welcome more of such initiatives that will allow our migrant workers to spend a day out of the dorms in a safe and enjoyable way.”
The Straits Times understands that some employers have been reluctant to let employees visit due to health concerns. Other companies also cancelled trips to the Flyer due to project deadlines.
IRR founder Dipa Swaminathan said: “We work alongside MOM and other stakeholders to ensure safe distancing measures during these trips so we hope that employers will be more sympathetic and feel reassured to allow their workers on some of these trips we are taking great pains to organise.”
Those interested to donate tickets using their SingapoRediscovers vouchers can do so at this website until June 30.