Saturday, December 17, 2011

No Go

Singapore is looking like a third world country if the frequent breakdowns of its 'world-class' transport network is anything to go by. Yes, all of Singapore is pouring scorn on SMRT, the operator of the subway system, now that it has malfunctioned for the 3rd time within the space of a week! The first time was probably an accident. The second time just a fluke of nature. The 3rd time shows that whoever is in charge is sleeping on the job.

You couldn't ask for a more profitable business running Singapore's subway system. First of all, the government builds the infrastructure for the company. This comes to billions of dollars. Then the the government imposes heavy duties on owning and using a car so as to encourage more people to take public transport. The government, again, builds even more subway stations to to make it easier for people to get around on the subways. All the management of the SMRT just has to do is sit around and make sure that its trains run. No need for price and product promotion campaigns, No need for discount pricing. No need for expensive advertisements. No need to entice with a 'Singapore Girl' type branding exercise. Just sit back and see the money roll in, literary every second that the trains are in operation. Heck, you can spend more time at the golf course, or wherever you think best takes your mind off the mundane job of running the public transport rail network. The business won't stop and the money tap won't run dry.

Maybe this is why SMRT finds it so hard to recover from its problems. No, that's why problems keep coming up. Well, ok, both. And you know, we haven't had a lot of support from its CEO, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, all these many years she has been on the seat, or in the golf course, wherever. She just manages to say the wrong things all the time that I wonder why she is still CEO. Its time for a change, and that change must start from the top. And you wonder why she is paid so much for doing so little. She is also the Chairman of the Risk Management Committee in SMRT. Clearly she is in the wrong job.

Perhaps before the year is out, it will happen. Only, we are not sure if the headline reads:

"SMRT CEO resigns", or

"SMRT CEO fired".

We commuters don't really care. We just want on-time and reliable service. Is that too much to ask?


Archie said...

I come from a still developing country that prides on its railway system - India, it is. No hard feelings, but our trains come 12 hours late. London tubes go late all the time. Amtrak's get stuck.

And you folks are cribbing for the third breakdown in its possible history. I say, please go around and get a good look.

Mistakes happen, lines malfunction. Even if the govt released COE's and allowed people to own cars, the country is TOO small for the traffic. In ways more than one, you guys should be happy!

I am sorry, if my tone is rude. Just in good spirits.

Epilogos Blogger said...

No you are not being rude. Constructive comments are welcome. The subway is the only reliable, quick and affordable means of transport in Singapore, until now. When you have to pay more almost every year and you don't have affordable alternatives, you need to voice your frustration. It is probably the only way to be taken seriously. Otherwise the powers that be will ride roughshod over you. What's wrong looking after your own interest? If you keep quiet, you suffer in silence. It isn't a Singapore only thing. That's the reason for the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements, isn't it?