Friday, April 8, 2016

Vandalism along HDB corridors

Vendors who are mostly providing plumbing, electrical and lock/keys services have been vandalizing HDB common corridor for years. They paste their advertising stickers on electricity meters and water pipes.

These stickers are hard to remove. Last year, the flats in my area have been given a fresh coat of paint which includes the water pipes outside the flats. Now these pipes have been vandalized again with unsightly stickers.

Their company name and contact number are on the stickers and could be easily traced. Why do HDB/Town Council not take action to warn and prosecute these vendors ?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

SMRT priority - Safety or Service?

SMRT CEO, Desmond Kueh said "The safety of our people has always been the utmost priority..". But at the same time SMRT was quoted saying it is their "priority to deliver a high level of reliability" in its train network.

What then is SMRT top priority?  Safety of its staff or service reliability?

Likely it is service reliability over staff safety as the CEO himself said that to have a team of staff walking along the 0.5m wide maintenance track while the train is in operation is "standard...It is a routine activity".  By treating high hazard work as 'routine', the head of SMRT has trivialized the importance of safety.

It is also reported that an average of 2 to 3 authorizations are given daily for maintenance staff to access the track while the trains are running. It seems like SMRT is tempting accident to happen.

With the narrow maintenance walkway and running train, one would have thought that having a team of staff on the track would be the exceptional rather than it being standard and routine activity.

If staff need to risk their lives on daily basis, then there is something very wrong with the reliability of the signaling condition monitoring devices, one of which the team was trying to access when the accident happened.

To say that the accident is due to the train entering the affected area because of failure in co-ordination between the team and the station staff is just scratching the surface.  There were 15 staff on the track when the accident happened. Has SMRT heard of the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" ? It is a high hazard working condition, the number of staff should be kept to minimum, not forgetting the walkway is only 0.5m wide!

Could the large number of staff that resulted in co-ordination problem? The supervisor, assistant engineer and engineer each thought that the other had contacted the station to stop the train?

The deeper problem could be SMRT company safety culture which can affect the quality and standard of the operation safety procedures and staff compliance to them.  For high risk/hazard work, the basic requirements are the use of operation checklist and maintenance of communication (eg via walkie-talkie) between the maintenance team and station control. Were these basic requirements in place? If so, did the team adhere to safety protocol?

However, the most uncomfortable possibility is that the team took unnecessary risk to minimize train service disruption due to pressure from the top.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Town Councils Mindless Implementations

Recently there have been highlights in the internet regarding Town Councils mindless implementation such as :

- putting sign stating "No Playing of Chess in Common Areas" at a HDB void deck in Haig Road
- installing barriers on a walkway which caters to wheel chairs users at Bedok

These idiotic quick fixes in responses to feedback and/or complaints give us a glimpse of the working mentality of Town Councils. Seems like they suffer from a deficiency of common sense.

There are many examples of such Town Councils stupidity around our HDB estates in S'pore.  Here are more of their idiotic implementations :

1) installing bicycle ramps on the stairs of a overhead bridge.. There is an overhead bridge near Tampines MRT which has heavy pedestrian movement.  With the bicycle ramps installation at stairs, the stairs become much narrower. No cyclist in his/her right mind will ever push the bike up 2 flights of stairs of the overhead bridge which has steep slope.  Controlling the bike on the ramp when going down is a hazard. Likely you have to press the brake and release it repeatedly as you move down the stairs.  If you lost control, the bike will tumble down the flight of stairs posing a danger to pedestrians using the overhead bridge.  Besides, there are 2 traffic light crossings on both sides of the overhead bridge.  As a cyclist myself of sound mind, I will go for the traffic light crossing instead of endangering myself and other pedestrians by using the bicycle ramps of the overhead bridge.

2) putting cones at extended roof shelter to stop vehicles from letting passengers alight at the shelter.  These extended shelters are built with the purpose of sheltering folks on rainy days when they alight from vehicles. So it makes no sense to put cones there as it defeat the purpose of building such shelters in the first place.

3) installing electronic board just to display a few shop blocks layout plan.  When the electronic boards were installed, the purpose is to display and update information effectively.  We thought it will replace the previous display notice boards. But alas, the layout plan put up during testing period still remains till today. The old notice boards are more useful as they are updated regularly on the HDB zone activities and govt policies (recently mostly on medisave life).

Town Councils are wasting resident money on white elephant installations and their mindless quick fixes render good intention installation useless to residents.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Myna Population Control in Yishun and Clementi

It was reported in the media that fogging of selected trees will be done to manage the myna population in Yishun and Clementi by AVA, due to residents complain of the noise created by the birds.

The authorities do not think it is a long term solution.  Likely it will not be effective as we have seen how years of culling of pigeons by poison has not work.  It used to be the same with stray cats, with AVA culling them and discouraging feeding, but with limited result in controlling of the strays population. This is until NGO groups actively promotes sterilization of stray cats. The sterilization program has been very effective in reducing the strays population.

Contraceptive bird feed has been found to be effective in other countries. AVA is doing trail run on pigeons at a mosque in Singapore.  AVA should expedite this program and extend it to both pigeon and myna population control island wide.

Fogging will only drive the myna from on location to another.  So peace in this neighborhood results in noise in another. Besides, though fogging does not kill the birds, but it is still chemical involved. Chemical dissipated into the air can land in surrounding locations and caused irritant to human and pets. It may be inhaled and cause health issues.

Must we drive and kill off all other animals (except pets) in HDB ?  Can we learn to be more tolerant towards stray cats and birds in our estate. They add life and colour to our concrete jungle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

LTA on CRL (Cross Island Line)

LTA has written to the media (Today Paper on 22 Feb 16) to say that "Govt studying route impact, has not made decision yet".  Reading what LTA Chief Executive, Chew has written, the conclusion is clear to us who are familiar with govt double talk, - it has already made its decision.  It is just waiting for the ground assessment result before making the announcement that CRL will cut beneath our nature reserve.

LTA Chew kept silent on the negative impact of cutting across the nature reserve, but highlight all the negative impacts should it run along the alternate route - saying it would cost $2 billion more, involve home acquisition which would affect families...etc

Even doing ground investigation has environment impact - that is why they reduce the the number of bore holes.  What more tunneling beneath the nature reserve.  According to the environment impact assessment done - the impact is serious as it is in the 2nd highest adverse category which is term 'moderate'.  This is what govt has been telling us - 'moderate' - so that those who are not familiar with the environment assessment stuff will think it is 'mild'.

Ultimately it is only cost that matters to the govt. Yes, $2 billion may sound like a lot, but Temasek and GIC lost much more than this. Why is our govt silent on their losses - while the concern about the amount which will save our last remaining patch of nature reserve. We can't put a price tag on nature which benefit is intangible and damage is irreversible.

Besides, since when has the govt been sensitive to re-homing residents? They have been doing it for decades - acquiring lands dirty cheap in the past till they are now the biggest landlord of S'pore.

Have they shown compassion when they announced that the 4 blocks of HDB flats at Rochor Center will be torn down to make way for infrastructure development?  Residents in those 4 blocks are mainly from lower income with high percentage of senior folks.

The difference is govt dictate the cost of acquisition in Rochor Center, but the acquisition area for CRL are private residential housing, so they can't get them cheap.

So $$$ is all our govt cares about.  All the other justifications are just excuse.  They are short sighted and irresponsible.