The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) has highlighted concerns raised during its dialogue with Indian businesses and the Federation of Singapore Indian Organisations about foreign manpower stuck in India, which has caused a serious paucity of manpower, according to a media report on Tuesday.
Equally of concern is the difficulty faced by Indian nationals working in Singapore not being able to travel out of Singapore due to the lack of flights and rules that prohibited the entry of work pass holders in the interest of containing the virus in Singapore, the Channel News Asia quoted SICCI chairman Dr T. Chandroo as saying.
He asserted that SICCI is confident that its members will take necessary steps to facilitate safe travel of their workers, while being responsible in keeping the workplace safe.
We look forward to working hand in hand with our government agencies in making the latest measures, in particular the opening up of travel to and from India, a success, he added.
During the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force news conference on Monday, Transport Minister S Iswaran said that Singapore and India are currently in discussions on the resumption of scheduled commercial passenger services.
He added that there is an aim to resume two daily Vaccinated Travel Land (VTL) flights each from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai by November 29.
The news of the resumption of VTL flights have got Indian migrant workers in Singapore excited.
When I heard about it, I was so happy and immediately asked my manager if I could swop my leave because I had already applied for leave in April and October next year, Dilli Babu told Channel News Asia, adding that he had been initially thinking of cancelling his leave because he couldn't afford the quarantine costs.
I don't know when I can go back, because many people (in my department) are waiting in the queue to go back home, he said. Some have kids or are getting married, some have parents who are ill, so these people will probably get priority first.
But at least now if I go back, I won't have to pay the quarantine costs.
Meanwhile, the news of the VTL couldn't have come at a better time for Nilesh Tawri, who is expecting his first child in December.
The 31-year-old research and development engineer and his wife currently work in Singapore and have not seen their parents, who live in India, for nearly two years.
When they announced the VTL yesterday, I wasn't expecting it to happen so fast because Singapore just recently (reopened its borders) to some travellers from India, he said. So, it's a very good thing and everyone is very excited, especially my parents and (my wife's) parents, he said.
Hopefully I will be able to secure tickets for them to travel (from India to Singapore) in early December, so that they can be here to help us prepare for the baby and support us after, he added.
Travel agencies also told the CNA on Tuesday that they are bracing themselves for a further surge in demand for flights to India from Singapore, the report said.
Rangoon Air Travel said the number of customers asking for flights to India has doubled since the announcement of the VTL on Monday.
We usually get about 20 customers a day who are hunting for flights to India, but today alone, we've received more than 45 calls, Jahabar Sadiq, the company's director said in the report.
It is a similar situation at travel agency Chola Holidays, where phones have been ringing continuously since Monday.
Now everybody is keen to travel because they know there is no quarantine and there is a direct flight to India, so demand for flights has increased a lot, Balu Venkatesh, the agency's director said.
We are already seeing high demand for the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM), with flights (for this month) already all fully booked about three to four weeks ago," he added, referring to a programme by the Indian government to repatriate Indian nationals from around the world amid the pandemic.