After being exposed by an independent media based in Hongkong and the news brought to Singaporeans’ knowledge by States Times Review, the Singapore Ministry of Transport and the state media are now on a propaganda overdrive to explain the cover up.
The defects of the China-made MRT trains were discovered in late 2013, and the Singapore government covered it up for more than 2 years until yesterday (July 5).
Ranked for 154th in press accuracy, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)’s Channel News Asia today published a Question-and-Answer response from the Ministry of Transport. However, the answers are at best dodgy and answered none of the questions about the cover up. The Ministry claimed that the defects are “not dangerous” and that the “non-critical” repair would be “sped up” and require 6 years instead of 7.
Below is the QnA by Channel News Asia:
Why are MRT trains being shipped back to its manufacturer?
Defects were found during a check of new trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and CSR Sifang in late 2013. There were a few hairline cracks on the car-body. These are superficial cracks (like those that show up on the walls of a new house). They are not structural cracks and are not safety-critical.
Are these defects dangerous?
The defects are hairline cracks and are not safety-critical. They do not affect the train’s systems, performance or passengers’ safety.
Are the trains still under warranty?
Yes, they are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. As such, LTA are sending the trains in small batches back to the manufacturer for rectification. This is the appropriate thing to do to ensure we get the value for our money.
How can you be sure the trains are safe?
To ensure that trains are safe for passenger service, all defects are monitored closely. Monthly safety assessments are also conducted by LTA and the manufacturer before trains are put into service.
LTA also commissioned an external third party assessment in 2013 which had confirmed that the trains are safe to operate. As advised by the third party assessment, there has also been close monitoring of the crack propagation rate.
Why transport these trains in the dead of night?
Our trains are big and massive equipment. They are transported at night, with auxiliary police officers clearing the way ahead, to minimise obstruction and inconvenience to road users. Likewise, new trains that arrive in Singapore are transported on our roads at night.
Then why cover them up in green covers?
The green covers are to protect the trains, just as how we would bubble-wrap or enclose in boxes and styrofoam-pad electronic equipment, machinery etc, which we want to transport overseas.
Will the repairs really take 7 years?
No, LTA has negotiated with the manufacturer and it will be able to speed up the process. Trains are being sent in batches and the rectification work will be completed in 2019.
An online user pointed out that Transport Ministry may be lying because the trains were not bubble-wrapped when they were first transported into Singapore from China:
Other online users pointed out that a 6 years “non-critical repair job” is a very blatant lie, and that it wouldn’t even take more than 3 years to manufacture a new carriage of factory-made trains.