Opposition parties call on authorities, SMRT to act on Tuesday's MRT breakdown

The crowd at City Hall MRT during the service disruption on July 7.
The crowd at City Hall MRT during the service disruption on July 7. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Opposition parties have weighed in on Tuesday's MRT breakdown, with the Workers' Party (WP) saying it is deeply worried by the disruption to train services.

In a statement posted on its website on Thursday, the WP said the incident raised questions about the resilience of Singapore's transport system. Train services were down on the North-South and East-West lines for more than two hours on Tuesday night, during the evening peak period.

"Such a system-wide failure could have repercussions on our nation's economic and national security interests," said the WP.

It called on the authorities to enforce a more rigorous maintenance regime on the rail network, with effective measures "to ensure that commuters' interests take precedence over corporate profits".

It also wanted concrete targets, such as the number of unscheduled train withdrawals per 100,000 train kilometres and the number of service delays exceeding 30 minutes, to be set and disclosed to the public.

 
 

Meanwhile, SMRT should support their engineering and front-line staff and equip them to handle any similarly challenging situations in the future, WP added.

"Their efforts and tireless work - many working through the night - should be recognised, and we would like to express our appreciation for their hard work," said the party.

In a statement posted online on Wednesday, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) pointed out that the possibility that passenger overload of the track system was a cause of the repeated MRT breakdowns had not been ruled out by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

Given this scenario, said the SDP, the Government should relook its population policy of bringing in foreigners to live and work in Singapore.

"If we want a bigger population, we must ensure that it serves the needs and well-being of Singaporeans, not the interests of the PAP," said the SDP, which posted a link to its own population proposals on its website.

The Reform Party called for a fresh committee of inquiry to investigate the causes of the breakdown, but added that the chair of this committee should not be part of the Government or the public transport industry.

In a statement sent to the media on Thursday morning, the RP also called for an independent public transport regulator.

It argued that because the current regulator, the Land Transport Authority, is part of the Government, "there is a fundamental conflict of interest in having LTA regulate and investigate SMRT when both are arms of the Government".

Ms Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss of the Singapore People's Party also called for accountability and asked what steps were being taken to improve the MRT system.

A Committee of Inquiry had been held in 2012 to look into the major MRT breakdowns in 2011, noted the former National Solidarity Party secretary-general.

She urged SMRT and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew to " provide, without delay, a full and frank account of the steps taken to implement the 2012 COI's proposal from 2012 to date".

She also called for a pay freeze for SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek and fares not to be raised until these steps are fully implemented, and until Tuesday's breakdown was properly accounted for.