Cancer left Madam Lam Yuk Sheung, 77, blind in her left eye. She also suffers from diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, and is unable to walk unaided. Her main caregiver is her husband, Mr Liow Swee Poh, 79, a former private tutor who retired more than 10 years ago. To make matters worse, the elderly Liow is a recovering heart attack patient himself.
The transport fees for Mdm Lam’s medical appointments which used to be up to five times a week fall upon their 52-year old son. That sometimes costs him as much as $500 a month, or a quarter of his $2,000 monthly take-home-pay; culminating in a tremendous financial strain on the security supervisor who hasto send $1,000 to his wife and eight-year-old daughter in China every month too.
The Gift of Mobility Programme took care of that heavy burden when Mdm Lam became a beneficiary in 2010. Her medical appointments are now just once in every three weeks, and she is thankful for the relief that the SMRT Gift of Mobility programme has provided her.
“In the past, it was very frustrating for me to go for my medical appointment. Taxi rides are expensive and sometimes we had to make bookings, which cost more. Sometimes, by the first two weeks, we would use up money that was supposed to last the whole month,” she shared.
Her husband added: “Now it is very convenient. I just call to make a booking the day before the appointment, and the taxi will be waiting for us downstairs in the morning. I use the money we save from the taxi fares to buy herbs and supplements for my wife to make her stronger.”
Madam Lam is just one of the more than 5,800 patients who are benefiting from the Gift of Mobility Financial Assistance Scheme. The programme marks its fifth year this year, with SMRT donating $200,000 to help the needy and less mobile among us. It covers the taxi-transfer costs for medical appointments or consultations at public hospitals for our beneficiaries, or for them to seek interim employment. SMRT Gift of Mobility aims to better the lives of the needy, physically disabled and less mobile in Singapore. It is a concerted effort by the company to lend a helping hand to some of our physically disabled members of society, and provide them with greater mobility.
Since its inception in 2008, SMRT has given more than $1 million to the cause. The new SMRT President and CEO Mr Desmond Kuek said that the company will continue with this initiative, as this gift has helped ease the financial burden of the less mobile in the community.
“The Gift of Mobility scheme is consistent with our corporate vision of “moving people, enhancing lives”.It underlines our continual efforts to reach out to those who are in need in our community, and help them move about more easily in their daily lives”, he said.
Ms Eunice Toh, Executive Director, Tan Tock Seng Hospital Community Charity Fund, said the Gift of Mobility scheme has ensured patients receive regular care for their conditions. “We are able to better monitor their illnesses, and therefore help prevent further deterioration of their medical conditions.”
SMRT has added a new beneficiary, Ayer Rajah Citizens’ Consultative Committee, to the list this year, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 14. These include the five Community Development Councils (CDCs) in Singapore; five public hospitals –including Tan Tock Seng Hospital; and two Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs). Please refer to Annex A for the full list.
Apart from this financial assistance scheme, SMRT also donated $171,000 to the Chan Chiew Ping Special Schools Fund to provide transport assistance to needy students in 20 special education schools. In addition, SMRT donated a decommissioned taxi to Bright Vision Hospital, and a retrofitted mini-bus to Handicaps Welfare Association. SMRT Taxis also launched the “All-In-One” SPACE taxi in 2008 which is retrofitted with a hydraulic ramp to provide easy access to wheelchair users.
SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is Singapore’s premier multi-modal public transport operator. SMRT serves millions of passengers daily by offering a safe, reliable and comprehensive transport network that consists of an extensive MRT and light rail system which connects seamlessly with its island-wide bus and taxi operations. SMRT also markets and leases the commercial and media spaces within its transport network, and offers engineering consultancy and project management as well as operations and maintenance services, locally and internationally.