Photo of Ng Chee Meng from singaporeairforce

Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng today (Oct 2) pushed the blame for the faulty Bukit Panjang LRT railway design to the former administration from the 1990s. Responding to Opposition MP Pritam Singh who questioned what “political pressure” was Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan talking about, Minister Ng pointed his finger at the former administration of Land Transport Authority (LTA):

“The Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (LRT) is prone to faults due to the system being designed to accommodate existing developments. In the 1990s, LTA was exploring a pilot network to bridge the last-mile gap from the MRT system and ease vehicle congestion within housing estates where population growth had stretched the road capacity. Bukit Panjang was identified in 1994 for the pilot, even though it was planned and built without LRT in mind. This resulted in the LRT’s design incorporating “sharp turns over undulating terrain” and over time, leading to “power trips at the sharp bends where the trains’ collector shoes often dislodge from the power rail.”

Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh slammed the former army general for not answering the question, and asked the Transport Minister the exact responsibility of the design flaws. Minister Ng Chee Meng continued to dodge the question:

“The primary issue with the BPLRT is that the design was adapted from an airport system to a housing estate. It was a ‘straight-line’ design which had to be adapted to undulating terrain and sharp turns. These design considerations will be addressed when a tender to overhaul the LRT is called at the end of the year, with a contract to be awarded in the first quarter of 2018.”

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has earlier faulted “politics” for the faulty LRT railway design:

“The Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT), which opened in 1999, was an “after-thought” to a built-up town, and constructed because of political pressure. No LRT is designed that way, in such a masochistic manner, when you force yourself up and down with twists and turns. The disruption on the BPLRT last Saturday was caused by the system’s design, with rail support brackets being sheared off.”

Noticing that the current government is blaming him, the former PAP MP for Bukit Panjang estate then came to the media to clarify that he was against the idea of having a LRT system. Till date, nobody took responsibility for the decision behind the design fault.