Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan today (Nov 6) pushed all blame of the flooded train tunnel incident to operator SMRT saying that there is no evidence to prove any oversight by the Land Transport Authority or Ministry of Transport. Throwing SMRT under the bus, Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote a response addressing MPs’ questions on accountability of the flooded tunnel incident on Oct 7:
“There is no evidence of shortcomings or lapses in regulatory oversight by staff in the Transport Ministry or Land Transport Authority (LTA). The responsibility for maintaining rail lines, including the flood prevention systems, lies with the operators. As the regulator, LTA sets the Operating and Maintenance Performance Standards, and carries out regular audits of the operators’ maintenance regime and on-site inspections to ensure these standards are complied with.”
Minister Khaw Boon Wan who was absent from Parliament’s sitting today without a reason given, defended himself in the letter saying that the LTA has even told SMRT to maintain their pump drainage system on Sep 29, before the incident happened:
“On Sep 29, LTA had, in accordance with its regulatory role, expressly highlighted to SMRT the importance of regular and diligent maintenance of tunnel pump systems, and to surface a list of pumps requiring replacement to LTA. Unfortunately, the remedial actions instructed by LTA were not taken in time. The flooding incident occurred before the replacement programme could be completed.”
Minister Khaw Boon Wan however did not explain what penalties will the government take against SMRT, or how is the Transport Minister be held accountable for the worsening state of public transport.
In recent months, there has been an increase in public opinion calling for punishments for SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, and questions being raised whether a former army general with no experience in the private sector should be made CEO.