Minister for Transport S Iswaran also lauded how Singapore’s land, sea, and air transport workers have endured throughout the pandemic.
Singapore’s transportation system and infrastructure must be reliable, resilient and ready for the future, reported Channel News Asia (CNA), citing Minister for Transport S Iswaran.
He pointed out that the city-state’s land, sea, and air transport workers had ensured reliable access to public transport and continued cross-border flows of goods and people throughout the pandemic.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, for instance, had facilitated over 160,000 crew changes using safe protocols it developed with its partners.
“It’s undoubted that COVID-19 will continue to challenge us,” said Iswaran at an event marking the Ministry of Transport’s 20th anniversary.
He also underscored how Singapore’s aviation hub partners had to deal with the Changi Airport cluster in May, while bus operators had to respond with an increase in infections among bus drivers.
This “collaborative spirit” in addressing the challenges brought about by the pandemic – even among competing firms – gave Iswaran the confidence that future challenges could be overcome and that reliability in the country’s transportation system could be sustained.
As to the transport system’s resilience, Iswaran cited the example of how the marine sector was able to adapt its processes to keep supply lines intact and ensure that workers were safe.
He shared that these efforts paid off, with Singapore remaining the top transhipment port in the world despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, container throughput increased 3% between January and July this year compared to the same period in 2019, said Iswaran.
“That means that we are now above the pre-pandemic level, which I think is a very notable achievement,” he said as quoted by CNA.
The aviation sector also saw cargo volume through Changi Airport recover to pre-pandemic levels, said Iswaran.
Nonetheless, the minister noted that national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Changi Airport were operating at 4% and 3% of pre-pandemic levels, respectively.
This is despite the introduction of various schemes to facilitate essential and business travel, including travel from very low-risk areas.
On the new vaccinated travel lane, the minister shared that several countries and regions had indicated their interest in opening such lanes with the city-state.
With this, the authorities are “actively working on expanding the scheme in the coming weeks and months”.
Iswaran added that Singapore should also be ready for the future, given that climate change is a “key long-term challenge”.
He said the country could play a “catalytic role” in reducing emissions coming from maritime transport and international aviation.
“As a hub, we are also well-placed to drive research, test-bedding and adoption of greener fuels for shipping and aviation,” he said, adding that the Government is reviewing the findings of a study on sustainable aviation fuels at Changi Airport.
“When green fuels are commercially viable, Singapore can help lower the emissions of every aircraft and ship that refuels in Singapore,” said Iswaran.
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