atans1

Circle Line: the unasked questions

In Infrastructure, Media, Political governance on 28/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

I’m writing this on Sunday evening.

On Saturday morning, I read that replacing the Circle Line ‘s power cables would take 18 months, beginning from January next year.

SMRT said the areas between Dhoby Ghaut and Dakota Stations are more problematic, compared with other parts of the network, as the cables sit in an area that is prone to water seepage from the ground.

SMRT’s executive vice president for trains, Khoo Hean Siang, said there are plans to replace all the cables.

He added: “We want to change out to a higher grade cable that can submerge, (be) more water resistant to make sure … the system will last for 20 to 30 years.” CNA report.

But neither, MediaCorp nor SPH reporters asked:

–  “The North-South Line only started giving serious problems last year. It was opened in 1987. Why is the Circle Line giving problems so soon?”

– “Given the newness of the line, first opened in 2009, and with the latest stations connected just last year, how come the electric cables need replacing so fast?”

– “Why were these cables used?”

– ” As the total cost was nearly S$10bn, not peanuts, by any measure, why were these cables chosen?

– “What other problems could possibly happen, given the cables gave problems much earlier than anticpated?”

– What is the cost of replacing the cables?

– Who is bearing the cost of replacing the cables? SMRT? Or the govt? If SMRT, will dividends be affected? Or will fares have to rise?

And neither did they ask these questions on Sunday. and my Secret Squirrels and Morocco Moles in both these constructive, nation-building media organisations, tell me that tonite’s programmes and tomorrow’s editions will not ask these questions.

These are the questions that the media should be asking. I’m sure PAP MPs  and Lina Chiam will be asking some of these question in parliament.  And I’m sure netizens are already asking these questions. But I’m sure the WP MPs will be silent. Too busy looking at their bank statements to see if the 30 pieces of silver ++ have been paid into their accounts? Taz what my disillusioned Morocco Mole in WP is wondering.

At the very least, S’poreans must be told why the decision to purchase a cable, now known to be sub standard, was made or allowed to be made? Was it an “honest mistake” by someone or an entire organisation, or an organisational failure, or was there corruption?

My very simplistic answer is that in the 1980s when the first lines were being built, one LKY was PM. No-one wanted to explain to him why the trains would not be running on time. The Circle Line was largely built when the PM was one Goh Chok Tong, and his DPM was one Lee Hsien Loong, today’s PM, his chosen successors. Whatever history may say about LKY, the train lines built when he was PM lasted over 20 years, before giving serious problems. Under his chosen successors, the Circle Line didn’t even last fault-free for five years.

Sometimes change is not for the better, even ifthuggish methods of management have been replaced by more civilised, possibly less effective, methods.  

And while there is no longer fear in the air the media breathes, the mental “knucklebusters” still remain in the minds of the media.

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  1. I would have thought that the electric cables must be designed to last a lifetime warranty since they provide the main power to operate the whole line. Just imagine the electric cables in your homes failing within a period of 5 years, how can that ever happened ? And if moisture can get thorough the protective layers of these cables to cause damage, something must be wrong somewhere?

    Is there some cover-up that sub-standard materials has been used and/or it would be most embarrassing to reveal the real causes?

  2. Why should replace all the cables where the cables used are supposed to be specifically specified according to specifications by OUR FIRST WORLD COUNTRY AUTHORITIES, ISN’T IT A SHAME TO HAVE PROBLEMS AFTER PROBLEMS ON SUCH SHORT A TIME SPANNED, RUNNING THE CIRCLE LINE. WHY WAS THERE NO REAL OR SERIOUS FINDINGS ON THE ACTUAL FACTS ON WHO OR WHAT IS THE FAULT FOR ALL THESE PROBLEMS. BUT TO SMRT IT IS JUST NOTHING TO THEM JUST A WORDS, “SORRY” AND THAT IT. DOES ALL THOSE SITTING THERE KNOWS THAT HOW MUCH INCONVENIENCES WAS CAUSED AND THE TIME WASTED.
    IT IS THE BEST TO WORKED IN SINGAPORE’S FIRST WORLD COMPANIES SUCH AS SMRT WITH NO RESPONDSIBILITIES TO BARE AT ALL.
    BUT DON’T FORGET TO LEARN TO SAY THE WORD SORRY THATS ALL, JUST TO BE THERE.

  3. I hope your bridges are not going to collapse anytime soon. It seems to happen a lot in some parts of the world…

  4. [...] Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Circle Line: the unasked questions – Senang Diri: SMRT Circle Line disruption: Telling the rail [...]

  5. The question one should be asking is you must be some dumb conspiracy theorist who thinks that the US didn’t land on the moon either. Paranoid much?

    • Finally a YPAP troll has discovered this site. Must have made it. YPAP still doesn’t have minimum standards of intelligence for entry?

  6. I think you’re a bit hasty in your praise for thuggish methods of management. Many industries that have been going hi tech are now dealing with serious issues concerning “innovations”. Impressive equipment exhibited at trade shows turn out to be crappy stuff after a couple of years. In contrast, the old equipment, without all the frills and fanciful new technology, were durable and easy to maintain and repair.

    • The test is simple: has the blur mgt of GCT or feel gd mgt of Lee II done better than “one strike, out” mgt of LKY? Would Raymond Lim, Mah Bow Tan, VivianB, George Yeo and Kan Sing lasted as long as ministers. LKY changed ministers regularly in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. Only Dr Goh, Hon, Lim Kim San lasted. Raja was different: needed minority.

    • Oh and these are power cables NOT software. Power cables are supposed to last, even if made in China, India, France or UK. Power cables in Germany or Switzerland or Nordic countries are “betterest” but kanna pay premium, not always justified. Bet you these were French-made cables. I prefer Indian or Cina stuff, except when it comes to super models.

  7. The truth of the matter must be revealed, our CPIB is very efficient in this area.
    The safety of millions of commuters travelling this line is not a matter to be taken lightly.
    CPIB should start investigation immediately.

  8. For the reasons take your pick from the following or combination thereof:

    1. misguided cost-saving – to warn ND Awards

    2. corruption – money paid to accept substandard product or services

    3. dishonest contractors made worse by incompetent govt officials in charge

  9. Singapore were better in LKY’s days. You need a tough administrator. You are right. Such nonsense we are seeing today will not happen in LKY’s days.

  10. [...] His entire blog entry on that issue can be read here. [...]

  11. Knucklebusters became dust-gathering feather-dusters. Rot started in 2G PAP, festered in 3G PAP and manifest in 4G PAP. Without the likes of Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, S Rajaratnam, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San, etc, to complement/supplement LKY. this is how the spirit of “serving Singaporeans and Singapore” of 1G PAP died off and replaced by “Pay And Profit” value system.

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