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SINGAPORE'S newly appointed transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said in his blog entry on Friday that he has asked national water agency PUB chairman, Tan Gee Paw, to be his adviser on rail transformation.
Mr Tan, 71, drew up the master plan to clean the Singapore River, helped to diversify the country's water sources and oversaw the development of Newater, Singapore's brand of reclaimed water. He was recently feted with the Institution of Engineers Singapore's (IES) Lifetime Engineering Achievement Award.
Mr Khaw said Mr Tan was the first individual he had consulted for advice and suggestion as soon as he was told of his new posting.
"We discussed the problem of rail disruptions, its possible causes and how we can make rail service as reliable as PUB services. We also discussed the industry structure for bringing about better alignment of incentives. We wondered aloud on how we would structure our rail companies, if we were to start afresh,'' Mr Khaw shared.
The two men also discussed the larger vision of a Singapore where public transport could be so convenient, reliable and hassle-free that there would be no need to own a car.
"We had so much in common on how the future transport system could be like and how to move from here to there. I asked him to be my Advisor on Rail Transformation (ART), with an immediate priority to ramp up rail reliability,'' wrote Mr Khaw.
"This will require a serious re-focus on the part of every player (MOT, LTA, SMRT, SBST) that we are in the engineering business, founded on strong engineering expertise and capabilities. We are no miracle workers, but given political will, clarity of purpose, dogged determination, we are confident that we will arrive at where we want public transport to be. But we need time to bring about this rail (and real) transformation.''