SCDF Rescues SMRT

Our MRT is plagued with all sorts of problems. With every disruption, it sounds as if the operators pick from a random pool of “reasons” to explain. Occasionally, new “reasons” are offered. Yesterday was one such occasion. SMRT’s North-South Line (NSL) was down due to flooding in the tunnels. Together with another incident, service through thirteen stations was disrupted.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), along with other public agencies, came to SMRT’s rescue. There was no fire to fight, no people to rescue. They simply needed to scoop water out of the tunnels. They worked tirelessly throughout the rest of the night, into the wee hours of the morning, and continued until around 11am this morning before they rid the tunnels of water.

Kudos to the SCDF.

I wondered if SCDF would come help out if my house was flooded.

SMRT is a private company. Notwithstanding the rail network being a critical national infrastructure, which would justify public agencies pouring in resources to deal with emergencies, it seems these ought to be problems that a private company should have prepared for.

Of course with the recent privatisation of SMRT, and the government buying back¬†operating assets of the North-South, East-West, and Circle lines, as well as the Bukit Panjang LRT Line, it is unclear what responsibilities SMRT has with respect to this flooding incident. It’s reasonable to assume that train maintenance comes under SMRT. But the flooding isn’t about the trains, it’s about the rail infrastructure, which means the LTA.

Whether it is LTA or SMRT, some of us are going to think they’re the same, equally incompetent at operating our rail transport system. The lines between them are blurry.

Was yesterday’s rain one of those once-in-fifty-years events? Would someone say no amount of engineering could have prevented yesterday’s flooding? I’m not convinced if this counts as a natural disaster. It’s rain. Lots of rain, more than our average rain. But it’s just rain.

With so many massive disruptions under their belt, one would have thought the SMRT would be extremely well-versed with their disaster plans. Hopefully it’s not just to dial 995.

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