Following the flooding of the train tunnel on 7 October 2017, the SDP called for Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan to step down as it had become clear that he is unable to resolve the problems that plague the SMRT.
The SDP renews our call for Mr Khaw to resign his post following the train collision at Joo Koon station this morning.
The Minister blamed the tunnel-flooding incident on a small and isolated group of maintenance staff of the company, taking disciplinary action against them and cutting their bonuses.
He said yesterday at the Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day: “A small group of SMRT workers had negated the good work of other SMRT workers and brought disrepute to other transport workers.”
It is obvious that with the train collision this morning, the problems at SMRT is not confined to just a small band of workers. There is systemic failure on the part of the management team which at the apex sits Mr Khaw.
Already under his watch, two maintenance workers were killed in 2016 at the Pasir Ris station because of the breakdown of the safety system. Back then, two SMRT were blamed and sacked.
Problems regarding maintenance continued until 7 October when the tunnel flooded. The incident was dangerous and could have jeopardised the physical safety of passengers.
Similarly, the train collision this morning could have resulted in more than just injury to commuters, it could have been deadly.
The leadership at the very top – starting with Mr Khaw – must take responsibility for this latest as well as earlier mishaps. The widespread and persistent malfunctioning of the system is another indication of the poor leadership in our public transport system.
At the minimum, a thorough and independent investigation of the collision must be conducted. However, it cannot simply end with Mr Khaw blaming SMRT workers and scapegoating them. He must take responsibility and step down. He must hand the work to someone else who can provide the requisite leadership that will resolve the woes of our train system before an even more disastrous event occurs.