Confessions of a concrete truck driver
Foul-mouthed and aggressive, concrete truck drivers are like the "cowboys" of the construction industry.
Just ask Kevin, 42, who has been driving a concrete truck since last year.
He is one of few Singaporeans working in the role - most are foreign workers from India and China.
Kevin declines to reveal his real name as he is not authorised by his boss to speak to the media.
He confesses that he has been in arguments, sometimes as the instigator.
"(The industry) is a rough place. The people do not talk (with civility) and that is just how things are," he tells this reporter, who is taking a ride in his truck.
The most common cause for arguments between drivers is queue-cutting at vehicle washing points or at the concrete plant.
Such queues can last for hours.
They also endure long, tiring hours transporting concrete from the plant to the worksite - sometimes driving for three days with an occasional nap.
He never goes home. The truck cabin is both bedroom and workplace.
When Kevin gets to sleep, it lasts only three to four hours before he has to get up and join the long queues at the concrete plant again.
They do this to maximise the number of hauls they make, since each trip pays between $10 and $20.
"There are some drivers who won't even nap just to make all the money they can," says Kevin, who makes about six trips a day.
"It is a danger to road users and we know it. But some just don't care."
Once, he saw a concrete truck driver make an illegal three-point turn in a school zone.
Two boys stood on a pedestrian walkway nearby, their mouths agape as the protruding sections of the truck nearly hit them.
Says Kevin: "They didn't know any better, and they just stood there without moving. I was so afraid for them."
Some work practices at the construction sites are questionable too, he says.
His pet peeve: Construction workers who defy building safety practices for convenience.
Normally, concrete must be cast within two hours of it being transported in a mixer, says Kevin.
Any longer and the concrete loses its strength and becomes too dry.
But Kevin has been asked to cast the concrete after having waited in line for more than two hours, despite his protests.
The worst offenders are workers who water down concrete mixtures to make it easier to work with.
This will reduce the strength of the material when it is cast, he says.
"When I complain to their company, nothing is done. Instead, I may even get banned for complaining."
He adds in a defeated tone: "After all, they are the clients. We do only the deliveries."
Even though workers are supposed to perform a test on each batch of concrete to see if it is workable, he says this is not always done.
"Yes, there are guidelines and laws, and there are trained engineers and foremen to ensure quality, but the reality is the workers may not listen," he says.
"In the end, people will be living and working in these buildings."
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
- 1Keep within the 40kmh speed limit while on public roads. Fines can be hefty, and you will endanger the lives of other road users if you speed.
- Maximise your time at the queues by taking a nap and having your meals. But if you oversleep, others may cut the line.
- Buy construction workers a meal and treat them nicely. They may show you preferential treatment the next time you transport concrete to their worksite.