SINGAPORE: Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo has said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will not hesitate to penalise SMRT following a second security breach at its train depot.
She said the government adopts a zero-tolerance attitude of such incidents in order to ensure the security of Singapore’s transport system and commuters.
Mrs Teo was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a joint emergency preparedness exercise at the Circle Line’s (CCL’s) yet-to-be opened stations on Saturday morning.
It was the morning peak hour and more than 400 passengers were packed on a train heading between one-north and Buona Vista stations.
A fire broke out and smoke started to fill the air. Help arrived within minutes and commuters were evacuated, while casualties were attended to promptly.
It was all part of a simulated exercise to test the ability of the CCL Operations Control Centre (OCC) and emergency personnel to manage a crisis situation efficiently.
Mrs Teo said such scenarios stressed the importance of being prepared.
This mindset must be reinforced given the recent intrusion at Bishan Depot where a train was vandalised with graffiti, she said.
“Like many Singaporeans, I was very disturbed by the security breach at SMRT’s Bishan Depot. Although no one was hurt, it is a very serious incident which should not have happened. Things that have to do with human error can always be prevented,” she added.
She said “any breach is one too many”.
SMRT said the intrusion went undetected as CCTV recordings revealed that the security guards did not carry out night-time patrols near the fences as required.
The operator was slapped with the maximum fine of S$50,000 after a similar incident took place at Changi Depot in May last year.
It was also asked to beef up security as recommended by the Public Transport Security Committee.
Meanwhile, structural works at Changi Depot have been delayed.
SMRT said the works were delayed as a water pipe had to be relaid after four PUB high-tension cables were discovered during the installation of the fence. Works are expected to be completed by the end of next month.
At the Bishan Depot, works are slated to begin only this month. They include a steel-welded mesh fencing and a Fence Intrusion Detection System (FIDS). Together with CCTVs, these will reduce the reliance on manned patrols and act as an additional layer of defence.
When asked if LTA should impose a specific timeline on SMRT to complete all security recommendations, Mrs Teo said she expects SMRT to fill any gaps in security immediately. After investigations are complete, authorities will decide on the next course of action.
Addressing concerns that the vandalism act could have been linked to the recent announcement of a fare hike which will take effect this October, Mrs Teo dismissed it, saying “it’s quite far-fetched to draw a link” between the two.
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