MRT disruptions

Time to build core team strong in engineering skills

The recent MRT Downtown Line disruption andflooding in the tunnel between Bishan and Braddell stations have left commuters disgruntled and distrustful of the reliability of the system (Service delays dampen mood at Downtown Line 3 open house, Oct 16; and Flooding in MRT tunnel preventable, says Khaw, Oct 17).

Prior to these incidents, there had been frequent breakdowns, so much so that commuters have come to accept them as part of transport delays. Their expectations have been managed to more realistic levels, but the more critical question is how to develop a robust system that enables commuters to plan their transport with confidence.

It is an extremely frustrating experience when train disruptions and unpredictable delays affect workers' productivity at work and students' peace of mind during examinations periods.Given that Singapore is moving towards a car-lite society, the MRT system inevitably has to assume an important role in our transportation network.

There has to be a clear and focused vision to solve our MRT problems, and the stakeholders and government leaders should realign their strategies towards building, developing and strengthening the engineering and maintenance capabilities of the company.

The stakeholders and government leaders should realign their strategies towards building, developing and strengthening the engineering and maintenance capabilities of the company.

With Singapore's reputation as a country that works efficiently, the MRT could have been a showcase of our resolve and strength to build something for others to emulate. Instead, the system, with its frequent train disruptions, has been a bitter pill to swallow.

Let us not repeat the mistake of the early 2000s, when increasing sales and revenues were the mandate of the stakeholders and leadership. It is time to put first things first and build a core team whose leaders are exceptionally strong in engineering capabilities and operational abilities, and have the tenacity to solve problems and move our MRT system forward.

Frankie Mao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Time to build core team strong in engineering skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe