Source: Channel News Asia.

Khaw Boon Wan: Train system is a complicated engineering piece of work, “it will fail sometimes, hopefully rarely. But it will fail.”

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan in his speech at the 5th Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance at the Environment Building on Scotts Road, announced that the Public Utilities Board )(PUB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have jointly formed a Standing Committee to regularly look into flood prevention for tunnels.

The PUB-LTA Standing Committee, formed at PUB Chairman Mr Tan Gee Paw’s suggestion, will also study some long term measures beyond our generation and put them in place, as well as institutionalising the lessons and hard-earned experiences of the incidents of MRTs lately.

Referring to the recent incident of flooding occurred on 7 October at Bishan depot, the Minister said that it was not a failure of engineering, but it was a failure of organisational management at SMRT. However, he noted,”SMRT will learn from it and emerge stronger. I have full confidence in Chairman Seah Moon Ming and his team.”

The Minister had then asked for understanding and full support from the public for the company and its staff.

“Not just for Seah Moon Ming, but also for his management, and the rank and file at SMRT. That would make his job much easier, and raise the morale of everyone down the line. Remember Seah Moon Ming is not Superman; none of us are,” he said.

He noted that the rectification work to the train system is, however, not yet finished, saying, “Out of six major renewals, two are done, four more to go, and they are also major ones, especially power supply.”

The Minister said, “Beware too that SMRT may experience other incidents along the way as we try to catch up in short order on what could and should have been done years ago. The hardest role is always the men and officers fighting in the trenches. The burden on their shoulders is the heaviest. And their families are also affected if they see that their loved ones are being screamed at, or castigated.”

“The least that we can do is to provide moral support,” he added.

He then said, “Fortunately, the pride in SMRT still lurks among the rank and file. And we can build on that. They need our full support above all else, so that they have the time and the space, and the encouragement, for them to put in their very best.”

Mr Khaw then compared the oldest line, North-South Line, built 30 years ago, and the newest line, saying that the new line is much better in design.

“And if you pay some attention, you know that people design for all kinds of contingencies – backups – because you know this is a complicated engineering piece of work, and it will fail sometimes, hopefully rarely. But it will fail,” he said.

“We’re not gods,” he added.