Singapore rail operator SMRT was in the news this week. Reason: The rail operator was fined $2m for two major breakdowns on December 15 and 17 last year. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the company had failed to exercise due diligence and vigilance expected of a public transport operator.
The LTA also added that the operator had not kept the rail network in good working condition and had “overall shortcomings” in its maintenance and monitoring regime.
As an expat, I was surprised to read the news that the money would be donated to the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares.
Admirable social welfare move!
However, I have a different experience with SMRT.
I am currently located at the hub of the city-state. Just in front of my apartment, a massive construction work is underway now: An underground station called Jalan Besar is being built by the SMRT. From the time I wake up in the morning, I could see men working. Big cranes, pay-loaders are in operation. Loud almost deafening noise keeps coming from the work site. And it goes on and on for quite some time.
What surprised me yesterday was the visit by a three-member SMRT team to my apartment. The team, I came to know, was visiting the neighborhood wanting to know the public opinion about the ongoing work, particularly about earth-shattering noise.
They were profusely apologetic about the noise coming from the work area. One of the members wanted to know my opinion. “I have no problem and I shouldn’t make any complaint either,” I said. “It’s for the public good. Once the station is completed, everybody will be benefited,” I added. “I will bear with it.”
The team thanked me and handed me a souvenir of the new station. The team also told me that from next year the noise level would be reduced and there won’t be any noise-related disturbance.
The visit took me by surprise. I worked in as many as four countries before. I saw massive construction work being undertaken by the concerned authorities. What I saw was signboard stating: Sorry for the inconvenience etc.
But, never did I come across the authorities saying sorry personally, going from door to door.
Citizens’ well-being matters.