The spate of vandals breaking onto trains at Bishan depot causes much concern. From May 2010, there have been four incidents of such break-ins detected at MRT depots, the latest in November last year. This was despite various security measures being employed by SMRT and reassurances given in this House since 2010 about a comprehensive security review being undertaken by the Public Transport Security Committee to address security gaps in our entire transport system.
Are these measures working? Just last month, on 27 February, train services were stopped briefly in the evening as a result of a man walking on the viaduct between Bukit Gombak and Choa Chu Kang stations.
Madam, we have been extremely lucky that the security breaches so far involved graffiti artists rather than terrorists.
We were told in Parliament in 2010 that the current security framework was that the PTOs bear the primary responsibility for day-to-day operational security and are best placed to decide wich measures are most feasible. We were also told that the government sets out security standards, and also does security audits. It is thus worrying that despite the specific concern about depot security being flagged out in 2010, it seems that the vulnerabilities of Bishan depot were only attended to in 2014 after two intrusions there. Why was this not picked up earlier?
The Minister has announced that the LTA will introduce new security-related standards within the Operating Performance Standards for PTOs. Failure to comply will attract penalties up to $1 million, or 10% of the licensee’s annual fare revenue of the affected rail system, whichever is higher.
The next breach may not be by a graffiti artist, but by a terrorist, and a fine of S$1 million then will be too little and too late compared to the grave consequences of a terrorist attack.
Is it time for the government to be more proactive in assisting the PTOs to enhance security?
MP for Aljunied GRC