SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek

SMRT Breakdowns: What has happened since 2012?

11252645_10153548150136383_1872094334562086658_nBy Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss

Yesterday (7 July 2015) saw an extensive MRT breakdown: the North-South and East-West lines were disrupted for hours. An estimated 250,000 commuters were affected by what could turn out to be the largest MRT breakdown in history.

Singaporeans are shocked, and are fully entitled to ask: what has happened since 2012?

After an unprecedented spate of breakdowns in 2011, a Committee of Inquiry was held in 2012 under the chairmanship of then Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye, who concluded, in a 358 page report, that the incidents were preventable and that there was a “a gaping disconnect between what was formally on record and what was happening on the ground”.

Then Chief District Judge Tan highlighted that LTA as the regulator had to maintain effective oversight of the Public Transport Operator’s (“PTOs”) maintenance regime.

Where is the accountability, rectification, and implementation of the COI’s 2012 report? What’s happened since 2012?

Here’s what has happened.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek

The CEO of SMRT, Mr Desmond Kuek, has seen his remuneration increase from around $500,000 in 2013 to somewhere between $2.2 million – $2.5 million in 2015. Meanwhile, fares increased by 2.8 % in2015, just a few months ago.

With the increase in fares, the revenues of SBS Transit and SMRT are boosted with an additional $48.5 million.

What hasn’t increased is the reliability and soundness of our public transport system.

I understand that systemic infrastructural faults take time to rectify. But what I cannot accept, and Singaporeans should not be asked to accept, is the complete lack of accountability of our public transport operators and those who lead them.

I call on SMRT and the Minister of Transport to provide, without delay, a full and frank account of the steps taken to implement the 2012 COI’s proposal from 2012 to date.

I call on SMRT’s CEO, Mr Desmond Kuek, to commit to a pay freeze until the proposals of the 2012 COI are fully implemented and yesterday’s massive breakdown is explained and rectified.

I call on the Public Transport Commission to commit to not increasing fares until PTOs take all necessary steps to fully implement the 2012 COI report and account for the massive breakdown today.

I firmly believe that a good measure of accountability is the least Singaporean commuters deserve.