LTA, PUB set up committee on tunnel flood prevention

Channel NewsAsia 5 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and national water agency PUB have formed a committee to regularly look into flood prevention for tunnels, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Tuesday (Dec 5).

The committee will also study some long-term measures beyond the current generation and put them in place, he said.

“The PUB-LTA Standing Committee will institutionalise our lessons and hard-earned experiences, lest they disappear with us at the crematorium,” he said in a speech at the 5th Joint Forum on Infrastructure Maintenance at the Environment Building on Scotts Road.

The committee, set up on the suggestion of former PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw, will ensure future generations do not lose sight of the hazard of floods, Mr Khaw added.

The flooding of the Bishan-Braddell MRT tunnel on Oct 7 was not a failure of engineering, but a “failure of organisational management" at SMRT, he said.

“The Oct 7 incident throws up other issues: HR policies, staff rotation, staff supervision, staff engagement and staff motivation."

While the engineering design is straightforward, regular maintenance, periodic audits, checks and tests make the difference as to whether the anti-flooding mechanism will work as designed, he said.

“The Oct 7 flooding incident will be remembered for a long time. It’d better be,” he said.

In an email to LTA and PUB last month, Mr Tan also suggested building in the civil infrastructure in new tunnels to accommodate sluice gates, which completely seal the tunnels against flooding, Mr Khaw said.

Such sluice gates exist in tunnel portals in Taipei, where they have to deal with typhoons. "We may never experience typhoons but we will experience heavier rainfall periods, as the typhoon belt shifts southwards and we sit at the periphery of these typhoons," Mr Tan had said.

GIVE THEM MORAL SUPPORT: KHAW ON SMRT STAFF

SMRT must emerge stronger from the incident, Mr Khaw said, adding that he has "full confidence" in SMRT, its chairman Seah Moon Ming and his team.

"While we are keenly aware of various gaps in SMRT that still are not yet addressed, do appreciate the many tireless, but necessary jobs that have already been done, and the risks avoided."

He also warned that SMRT may experience other incidents as it tries to catch up on "what could and should have been done years ago". He asked the public to give their support to SMRT staff, to make their jobs easier and raise their morale.

“The hardest role is always the men and officers fighting in the trenches. The burden on their shoulders are the heaviest. Their families are also affected if they see that their loved ones are being screamed at, or castigated,” he said.

The least that we can do is provide them with moral support, he said.

“The pride in SMRT still lurks among the rank and file. We can build on that.”
Source: CNA/cy

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