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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Daily Lessons from Life 13 December 2015 - Workers' Party calls for transparency in LTA, SMRT negotiations

"Workers' Party calls for transparency in LTA, SMRT negotiations - CNA 13 Dec 2015

SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party (WP) on Sunday (Dec 13) renewed its call for the government to be more transparent in renewing and maintaining rail parts.
Speaking at a community event, WP media chairman Gerald Giam said there should be a proper rail maintenance schedule to prevent future train breakdowns. He also called for KPIs on rail asset maintenance and renewal to be introduced on an annual basis.

Mr Giam said the public should be kept updated on the negotiations between LTA and SMRT. He also spoke about MRT sleepers, which he noted are designed to be replaced between 15 and 25 years after the start of operations. That would mean replacement would take place in 2012.

He noted that sleepers on the East-West lines are still being replaced, and will be completed only in 2016. "So that is clearly 4 years after the last date of their renewal. Same thing for the renewal of the signalling system," said Mr Giam. "I think they've said, it's designed for a lifespan of 10 years and it's way above 10 years that they are being replaced."
He added: "Another component would be the third rail assembly which carries the power lines, the power to the trains, which have been the cause of a lot of the breakdowns. That also has a lifespan of about 30 years and we are reaching that period also."

"These are just some of the critical parts that have been highlighted. There may be many parts that need to be replaced but have not been replaced, have reached their end of life," said Mr Giam.
"And this is why we are calling for more transparency as to the KPIs that are put forward - as to what are these parts, when should they be replaced and when have they been replaced.""

Such things were NEVER discussed nor raised by public in the past. So, it would be interesting to find out IF there are any merits for these issues to be raised as perceived by the public!

Lessons for me are:

1. our public transportation companies, while listed, are also partly owned by the state investment entities. It is a bit confusing and convoluted when the government got directly involved with owning some of the infrastructure of the public transportation system previously supposedly already 'gifted' to the public transportation companies. Not forgetting the S$1B investment in the 'Bus Enhancement Program' a few years back which has NEVER really be ACCOUNTED FOR separately how the SMRT and SBS have managed and accounted for the 'operation assets, buses, provided';

2. with 2 tranches of 'public bus routes' awarded to 2 UK-based bus companies in recent months, it will be interesting to learn HOW these 2 new bus operators perform financially and operationally against our 'GLC SMRT and SBS in 12- and 24-month period. How are these 2 newbies accounting for the 'bus terminals' provided to them, how they maintain the buses, how they service the commuters, etc. Definitely WORTH LTA and the MoT folks to START thinking WHAT data to collect to analyse and provide meaningful comparison and form some insightful conclusion on the FUTURE operational best practices for our public transportation operators, local and foreign-owned;

3. will the public take the WP's higher profile activism favourably or otherwise? I think this will need a bit more time. WP also recently been asking for more independent and transparent investigation of the Hep-C lapse in SGH among other 'public' issues. Does Singapore need a 'Independent Commission of Inquiry (COI)' every time some major public mishaps happened like in the UK- style or we can trust the government, as in the past, to form a COI that have members who are loyal to the truth, integrity and professionalism. I personally am inclined to have an Independent COI with opposition MPs in it IF MPs are involved but the dominant criteria are always: professional competence and not political affiliation.

A new way forward for opposition parties to raise their profile a bit more instead of JUST during the next General Election?

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