Heat, checkpoint congestion leaves over 3,000 chicken dead

SINGAPORE (CNA) – More than 3,000 chickens died during their journey from Malaysia to Singapore over the last few days after cargo trucks experienced delays at the land entry checkpoints, said poultry importers interviewed by CNA.

Cargo truck drivers have been experiencing longer than usual delays at both Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints since last week after Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced that COVID-19 antigen rapid testing would be progressively rolled out. Drivers would need to test negative before being allowed to enter Singapore.

Wu Xiao Ting, a spokesperson from Singapore’s Poultry Merchant’s Association said around 3,500 chickens died during the journey on Wednesday (January 27) and Thursday.

“The congestion has been bad over the last two days … The weather is too hot and the wait is too long, so they died,” she said on Friday. “The congestion has impacted our business.”

Wu said the chickens were imported using 68 cargo trucks. They were scheduled to be transported to different slaughterhouses before being sold to retailers across Singapore.

File photo of chickens in Malaysia. PHOTO: AFP

“The ones who died (along the journey) were disposed of. They cannot be delivered to retailers,” she added. Poultry importer Toh Thye San Farm said that on Wednesday and Thursday, around 2,000 out of the 60,000 chickens it imported from Malaysia died during the journey.

The company’s director Johnson Toh said cargo trucks carrying the chickens were delayed between nine and 11 hours at the land checkpoints.

“From what we saw, it was because of the heat. They died from overheating. We cannot sell the chickens once they die.

“What we did was we put them aside and reported the incident to the Singapore Food Agency (SFA),” he said.

Truck drivers from Malaysia who entered Singapore over the last week told CNA that the congestion at the checkpoints worsened after it was announced that they had to be subjected to COVID-19 antigen rapid testing.

Last Friday, hours after the new rules were enforced, CNA reported that some drivers had experienced delays of around three hours at the land checkpoints.

However, those who entered Singapore over the last few days said that the wait has been extended to between 10 hours and 15 hours.