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Bukit Timah bridge incident – commuters left stranded

In light of the recent heated debate about the transport system in Singapore, I would like to share my experience with the bus service along Bukit Timah Road.

This afternoon [03 July], the overhead bridge at Sixth Avenue "collapsed". The exact time I am unsure, but a cashier at the nearby Guthrie House Cold Storage informed me it was at about 1pm.

I had walked from Adam Road as the entire stretch of Bukit Timah Road until the Clementi Road entrance had been diverted. Despite the fact that bus captains patiently explained to every passenger [about the incident], the shocking fact remains that for about 6 hours, not a single person from the bus service notified the residents of Bukit Timah huddled under the bus stops, waiting futilely for buses to come in the rain.

While walking the few kilometres down, I encountered people who had waited even up to 2 hours. I also noted the presence of large groups of stranded construction workers, appearing to be waiting for some sort of service to send them back to their hostels. They cut very abject figures in the humid drizzle, with nothing to shelter them save their yellow safety helmets.

I think the entire experience casts a huge doubt over our public transport system’s ability to deal with “unforeseen circumstances”.

Although there was crisis management in the form of diverting traffic, the lack of accountability and communication just reeks of irresponsibility and ineptness to me. If the cashier is to be believed and the accident did happen at 1pm, well, it was 6:40pm when I finally reached my destination and there were large crowds at bus stops. In the near-six hours of crisis, it seems that some people did not respond critically.

As many of our core services in this country are publicly-owned (I use this term loosely), I do think that in such situations, mobile service providers could be mobilised and inform everybody in the country. The inconvenience and traffic jams from Whitley onwards to Eng Neo were horrific. I outran, rather, out-walked quite a number of cars.

As a commuter of buses, I think it also reveals many critical flaws in the design of the distance-payment system. I had to alight and walk for 3-4km along Bukit Timah Road, losing fare based on the system if I
took another bus that was still in service at the other end of the road. Should any part of Singapore have main roads with bus stops closed for repairs, I can imagine the loopholes in the system that adds insult upon injury to commuters.

11am to 7pm [as reported by the press]. What on earth were they doing? And the bridge did not collapse; it was crooked. I think they should have left it alone (or closed one lane) until midnight to attend to repairs.

I hope that my account may be of some use to your site and that it may help to keep the flame of discussion going. Thank you for your wonderful efforts with this website and I hope everything is well.

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The writer wishes to remain anonymous.

Picture from the Straits Times.