Set aside day to honour transport workers

It was interesting to learn that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew once told former transport minister Raymond Lim that helming the transport portfolio was "a thankless job" ("Transport Minister's a thankless job, Mr Lee told Raymond Lim"; last Friday).

In a small country, it is costly for anyone to acquire private transport, and there are physical limits to how expansive our road networks can eventually be without any costs involved.

Necessarily, this makes moving large numbers of people during peak hours a somewhat tricky exercise; even with the best-laid plans, the occasional incident may just crop up, such as a major train breakdown.

Our train network began in 1987 with a five-station segment from Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh. Then, I had the privilege of experiencing the comforts of a modern train network.

Over the years, this short segment has grown multifold to more than 100 stations, including the LRT stations, and continues to grow in order to meet rising needs.

Building a network is arduous work, both physically and financially, not to mention the loss of human lives during construction.

While transport operators continue to have their work cut out for them to keep operations smooth-flowing, it's time to consider dedicating one day a year to thank our toiling transport workers.

Just as we have special days set aside to honour those in the nursing and teaching professions, we can do the same for those in the transport industry. I have found many of them genuinely willing to be of service to others and richly deserving of a pat on theback.

It also gives transport operators a common platform to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by reaching out to the public.

It takes two hands to clap, so the transport portfolio does not have to be as "thankless" as Mr Lee thought, because we all have it within us to express our gratitude.

Tang Kum Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Set aside day to honour transport workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe