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Jurong East station – an absurd situation

Andrew Loh

On 6 July, I wrote about why Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, SMRT’s CEO, had missed the point about our trains and train stations being overcrowded. (See here) While she may have said that “people can board the trains, it is whether they choose to”, I felt that she seemed not to be aware of the safety aspects of such crowded trains and stations.

The perfect example of a potential safety hazard caused by overcrowding is Jurong East station. Each morning and evening, the station is so packed “that the commuters from the escalator were unable to get off the escalator when they reached the top.” This surely is an absurd situation.

According to this report, “[In] the morning at Jurong East station, the crowd transiting from the North-South line to the East-West line towards Pasir Ris had a lot of trouble boarding the train, and trains were not as frequent from that location.”

So, what has the SMRT done about this? It seems nothing.

The Second Minister for transport, Mrs Lim Hwee Hwa, would only say that “a new platform [is] being built at Jurong East MRT station.” (Today)

It is unclear when the platform will be ready or how Mrs Lim recommends the situation at Jurong East station be alleviated. It would seem that the “new platform” is considered the solution.  That’s left to be seen.

But what happens in the meantime?

Commuters will have to put up with the situation. They have no choice especially when the CEO of the company responsible adopts a nonchalant and arrogant attitude, besides displaying total ignorance and a complete lack of empathy for what commuters have to face each morning.

It is time the SMRT took seriously the safety concerns which such overcrowding in stations, especially at Jurong East, poses.

If something untoward should happen, who is going to be held responsible? And even if someone were, it may be too late and of little comfort to those who may be affected.

For a start, perhaps the SMRT should focus on these problems instead of spending its time on a another absurdity - policing babies drinking from milk bottles in the trains.

And lastly, why aren't the Members of Parliament for the Jurong area speaking up about this?