The convenience of outsourcing the blame

“So nobody is truly accountable. Neither the SMRT CEO, the Transport Minister, or the LTA (oh, the predecessor CEO has been posted to a cushy job elsewhere) or even the Prime Minister. Welcome to Singapore Inc. Heads I win, tail you lose!! The lesson here? If your kids have outstanding academic credentials, join the Elite Admin Service. Its the only way to “sure win” the rat race here in Singapore.” – a comment on SMRT don’t understand trains and systems


Have you watched Jack Neo’s “Just Follow Law“? Remember the scene where the three technicians can not fix a light bulb and wanted to outsource the replacement of the light bulb to third party contractor? It is over-exaggerated but nevertheless the painful flaw of outsource-thy-incompetence -and-blame to outside contract is very prevalent and real in the civil service in Singapore. No wonder we have over-staffed and overpaid government officials and civil servants who enjoy some of the best staff benefits such as generous paternity leave, subsidised broadband and handphone bill, eat-with-your-family-day, work-from-home, sabbatical leaves, exam leaves etc, which are the envies of the employees in private sectors can dream of, while keeping the iron rice bowls (sort of, at least no bottom line to speak of), all at the expense of tax payers.

And when major cock up like the SMRT disruptions, you also see the convenient ways to outsource the blame to a “private company” SMRT. “Calling the situation “unacceptable”, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has asked SMRT to investigate the disruptions — with two incidents today (March 3) bringing the count to five in nine days — and provide a full account. Not only has LTA outsourced the blame, they have also conveniently outsourced the investigation works in this case. Making Askmelah wonder why are we paying 5 digits salary to so many LTA directors just to outsource their works and blames, it is sickening…. As Khaw Boon Wan said in his infamous recent speech, cock up suc has this case 5 disrupions in 9 days which causes many unhappiness, stress and disruptions to citizens’ lives, someone in LTA or MOT (Ministry of Transport) would have committed hara-kiri in the good old days. But no in Singapore, our civil servants and political masters are good in outsource the blame to a third party contractor, period.


“I’m a reasonable person. I don’t go around asking people to commit suicide. But I think someone, or some people, should certainly take personal responsibility for all the transport screw ups we have been experiencing. The people there, aren’t you even a little embarrassed about what’s happening?

At some point, I think we’ve had enough. Say how much you’re disappointed, how much the situation is unacceptable, investigate all you want. At the end of the day, it all comes to nought. Things are not improving at all.

LTA needs to do more. Not just sit on the sidelines and express disappointments, collect fines, and do PR. None of these are working. I hope our transport minister knows that. I’d expect our premium-salaried cabinet is smart enough to know that……. Every day you wake up wondering, what new transport problems will we get today?” ZitSeng

PS: Askmelah almost missed out on the recent AHPETC bashing, the problem can be traced back to the Government wanted to outsource their duty to Town Councils years ago, thereby creating a whole army of Majors and managers and contractors to do all the job that are rightfully belonging to MND and HDBs. Didn’t the Government believe in Economies-of-scale?

“Can we confirm that citizen’s monies are not wasted in having to come up with a completely different accounting system that has to be set up from scratch when GRCs change hands, and the old system abandoned? Can we assure that no such wastage occurs in future, including man hours spent in parliament debating such wu-liao things that should not have happened in the first place if system was not changed?……..The welfare of residents must always come before politics.”

Chronicles of recent SMRT disruptions:

  • 03 Feb – NSL no train service from Marina Bay to Marina South Pier station for an hour
  • 17 Feb – EWL disruption from Joo Koon to Jurong East due to a train fault at Jurong East
  • 18 Feb – NEL train service suspended for 40 minutes, signalling fault
  • 23 Feb – NSL disruption between Yew Tee and Kranji, track fault
  • 24 Feb – LRT service between Choa Chu Kang and Keat Hong disrupted by damaged third rail
  • 25 Feb – NSL delay between Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut, signal fault with train departing Somerset
  • 27 Feb – NSL disruption due to track “intrusion” near Choa Chu Kang station
  • 9 Mar – Bukit Panjang LRT service will not resume Monday evening after fire at Senja Station
  • 11 Mar – Train delay on NEL; student’s leg stuck between train and platform at Hougang MRT station


SMRT says sorry for ‘unacceptable’ disruptions

SINGAPORE — The authorities are investigating the recent spate of train service disruptions on SMRT’s rail network and plan to review the operator’s resources and processes for maintaining the rail system.
Source: Todayonline, MARCH 4 2015

SINGAPORE — The authorities are investigating the recent spate of train service disruptions on SMRT’s rail network and plan to review the operator’s resources and processes for maintaining the rail system.

Calling the situation “unacceptable”, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has asked SMRT to investigate the disruptions — with two incidents today (March 3) bringing the count to five in nine days — and provide a full account.

“The LTA will be working with SMRT on the immediate remedial actions to turn around the situation,” a spokesperson said today. “We intend to review again SMRT’s management of resources and processes for the maintenance of the rail system.”

This evening’s disruption on the East-West Line began at 5.35pm, when track faults at Clementi and Lakeside stations caused trains to slow down from Queenstown to Boon Lay.

Commuters were advised to add 20 minutes to their travelling time between Bugis and Jurong East stations in both directions as bridging bus services were activated. SMRT later announced at 7.12pm that normal service had resumed.

In the morning, a signalling fault at 7.28am at HarbourFront station on the Circle Line stopped all trains between Haw Par Villa and HarbourFront. Passengers on four trains had to be driven manually to the nearest stations, while free buses and seven shuttle bus services were activated. Service resumed at 8.11am.

In a statement today, SMRT said it was looking into the cause of the Circle Line incident. It also gave an update on investigations into the three service disruptions last week — two on the North-South Line (NSL) and one on the Bukit Panjang LRT line.

Investigations showed that the NSL incident on Feb 23 was caused by a damaged power collective device on the train that affected the third rail, which supplies power to the train.

“A fleet-wide inspection of all trains that service the North-South, East-West Lines was completed to ensure all power collecting devices on the trains are in good condition. In addition, we have also inspected the third rail condition along the incident stretch of track to ensure that it is fit for use,” the operator added.

The Bukit Panjang LRT disruption on Feb 24 was caused by a dislodged power and signal collecting assembly on an LRT train, which hit a signal rail and caused a power trip. The damaged signal rail had to be repaired. No anomalies were found during a system-wide check on all other trains and tracks.

The third disruption occurred on the NSL on Feb 27, when a man climbed onto the track between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Gombak stations. “We are reviewing the existing security measures at those sections with the relevant authorities to further reduce the areas of vulnerability within the network,” SMRT said.

Commenting on the incidents, SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee said: “While SMRT’s investigations into these four incidents indicate that the cause of each incident was different and technically unrelated, we are clear that any service lapse for whatever reason affects the quality and reliability of service to our commuters.”

He added that SMRT has noted the feedback over gaps in its service recovery efforts — in particular the bus bridging services — and will work with the SMRT buses team to better manage them.

Mr Desmond Kuek, SMRT Corporation president and group chief executive officer, added: “We apologise for the rail incidents over the past week…The SMRT team will stay focused on safety and reliability improvements as we work to renew Singapore’s ageing rail network to the benefit of our commuters.”


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