In the name of “kampong spirit”, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that he wants to see shopkeepers in MRT stations help out in crowd control and traffic direction when there is a train breakdown.
According to the newly-elected Transport Minister, shopkeepers can guide commuters to the right bus stop or to the right queue:
“SMS Josephine Teo suggested that we work together with the shop-keepers working in the station, with a view to them playing a role in contingency plans. Even if it is simply to help guide the commuters to the right bus stop or to the right queue, it will be a great help to reduce confusion amongst commuters. …The suggestion would require the authorities to proactively share clear information and instructions with the shop-keepers.
This also means that we work together as one family… during normal times, much like close neighbours who will not hesitate to chip in and help when help is needed. This is the kampung spirit that we must inculcate in every MRT station. It will not be easy to forge such a culture, and it will take time, but it is the right direction to take.”
Previously the Transport Ministry has gotten the permission to activate Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers to direct crowd during train breakdowns but the decision was met with strong opposition from Singaporeans. The primary cause for concern is that public resources should not be used to help the private corporations out.
SMRT and SBS do not have enough capabilities and manpower to handle train breakdowns in Singapore, and often request help from Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Singapore Police Force. The two private companies posted tens of millions in profits in the recent quarter but did not share their profit with commuters. Singapore’s duopoly public transport see losses nationalised in Singapore while profits are privatised.