~ National Solidarity Party’s Letter to the Ministry of Transport Regarding Recent Casualties of Public Transport ~
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) requests accountability from the Ministry of Transport over the spate of public transport-related casualties in recent months.
The recent spate of events involving fatal casualties as a consequence of bus-related accidents concerns us all. The safety of commuters and passengers has been compromised. This is unacceptable.
Although the public has received a response from both SBS and SMRT following questions about hiring practices and employment quotas, NSP feels that the information that has been made public does not address the root cause of this disturbing trend, nor does it offer solutions that can eliminate it and ensure the safety of commuters.
NSP would like to raise the following questions, which we trust the Ministry of Transport can address with openness and accountability:
1a) Will the Ministry furnish the public with statistics on the incidence of public bus-related casualties over the past decade and confirm that there has indeed been an unprecedented rise in the occurrence of such accidents?
1b) If such a trend has indeed been identified, has the Ministry recognised it and what is the Ministry doing to pinpoint and eliminate the cause of this trend?
1c) Currently, there is only one criterion (out of eleven) under the Quality of Service (QoS) requirements that relates to safety: "Accident rate on all bus services Less than 0.75 per 100,000 bus-km per month". The penalty for non-compliance is a fine of $10,000. Does the Ministry recognise that our regulatory system places insufficient emphasis on safety and is woefully inadequate to protect the safety of commuters, pedestrians and drivers?
2) The Ministry has announced that $1.1bn of taxpayer's money will be used to procure 800 new buses and hire additional 1,600 drivers. This sudden and drastic increase in the demand for bus drivers will likely result in the engagement of more non-Singaporean bus drivers unaccustomed to our road system and safety practices. The haste to make up for the capacity shortfall built up over the past few years could result in our road users’ safety being further compromised. The public has been alarmed by the recent spate of accidents involving buses and fear for the safety of our young and elderly in particular.
It is irresponsible to continue treating the recruitment of bus drivers as a strictly private matter to be decided by the bus companies. The safety of commuters and road users is a public matter, and hiring practices that jeopardize the safety of these Singaporeans should be treated as a public matter. Will the Ministry be reviewing the criteria for qualifying bus drivers and raising the bar in the interest of safety?
NSP looks forward to MOT's response.