After the embarrassing YOG budget report the authorities seemed to have shied off from a detailed breakdown of the expenses. Most likely the bulk of it went to the lawyers - Allen & Gledhill (LTA) and Drew & Napier (SMRT). The fact that litigators took center stage over technical experts on train systems speaks volumes about the nature and tenor of the inquiry. The technical causes "may never be known with absolute certainty."(Greer, Ove Arup & Partners)
Do we need to spend $10 million to acknowledge that SMRT has failed, among other things, to exercise due diligence and vigilance expected of a public transport operator, and to maintain its network in good and efficient working condition? Much of the shortcomings were painfully obvious when it was shown how low tech cable ties were used to fasten critical components of the power supply system for the trains. Dropped claws, damaged collector shoes and deformed third rails were symptoms of a flawed management regime hell bent on money making, and damned be the engineering fundamentals.
Much of the COI "recommendations" will take years to implement, but one which can be addressed quickly is the frequency of testing of the trains' emergency battery capacities. SMRT is supposed to enhance commuter comfort, such as the availability of air-conditioning systems on the trains and MRT stations, which unavailability caused commuters to be trapped in suffocating pitch black cabins during the breakdown of Dec 2011. The first generation trains were designed with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) capable of supporting emergency lighting and ventilation requirements for up to 45 minutes. Which means the backup batteries were either never checked for expiry dates, or never fully charged at all. That such a simple task was missed is pathetic reflection of the people in command.
Para 666 of the COI Report notes that "there appears to be a lack of competent mid-level engineers in SMRT" and "the SMRT Board also appeared to be lacking in engineering expertise as they had no engineering or train-focused representation". Enough said.