MRT breakdown

Opposition parties call for answers

Commuters at City Hall MRT station during the breakdown of the North-South and East-West lines on Tuesday.
Commuters at City Hall MRT station during the breakdown of the North-South and East-West lines on Tuesday.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

They say more stringent maintenance, other measures were to have been in place after breakdowns in 2011

Opposition parties questioned the crippling breakdown of MRT train services on Tuesday, noting that a more stringent maintenance regime and other measures were to have been in place after two breakdowns in December 2011 prompted a committee of inquiry to be set up.

The Workers' Party (WP) said the disruption of both the North-South and East-West lines raised questions "about our transport system's resilience, particularly as such a system-wide failure could have repercussions on our nation's economic and national security interests".

"This is despite billions of dollars of government funds being pumped into improving the existing MRT infrastructure since 2011," WP said on its website yesterday.

"Even as the LTA (Land Transport Authority) and SMRT work together with their engineers and external consultants to identify the precise cause of the breakdown, we find it particularly troubling that two of our country's main rail lines can be fully disrupted by what appears to be an electrical fault."

A more rigorous maintenance regime must be enforced, "with effective measures in place to ensure that commuters' interests take precedence over corporate profits". Concrete performance indicator targets must be set and made public.

The WP praised the staff, many of whom worked through the night.

The Reform Party said yesterday the Government must explain why it is "still no nearer to fixing the serious problems with the MRT". It called for an independent committee of inquiry to probe the cause and for an independent public transport regulator to replace the LTA.

Singapore People's Party's Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, citing the 2012 inquiry, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the authorities must give a full account of the steps taken to implement its recommendations. She urged SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek to commit to a pay freeze, and for train fares not to be increased until these are fully implemented.

There were over 30 recommendations, including improving the prevention and detection of problems related to trains, and improving the way incidents are managed.

Singapore Democratic Party noted on Wednesday that Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew did not rule out passenger overload as a possible cause for repeated breakdowns, and called on the Government to review the policy of bringing more foreigners to live and work here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition parties call for answers'. Print Edition | Subscribe