SMRT, LTA spent S$10 million on COI hearing

Gail Chai

S$10 million.

That’s how much the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT spent on the recent Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearings.

Announcing the sum on Friday, the LTA said its expenses on legal fees and consultation fees for its panel of experts came up to S$4 million while SMRT incurred the rest.

“The COI process was important to LTA. Credible experts and good lawyers  were hired to ensure an optimal outcome. As a result of the process, we have greater clarity about what happened during the December incidents. Measures have been taken to improve reliability and strengthen the regulatory framework,” said an LTA spokesman, as quoted in The Straits Times.

Over the course of six weeks in April and May, a total of 116 witnesses, including ground staff, experts and former SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa were called up.

Andrew Yeo from Allen & Gledhill represented LTA while Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull represented SMRT.

The government called for the inquiry after two major MRT train breakdowns on 15 Dec and 17 Dec affected more than 200,000 commuters.

The COI found the breakdowns preventable and that SMRT was plagued by outdated equipment and poor maintenance for years.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew also said the LTA had to accept its share of the blame for not keeping SMRT in check.

SMRT was fined the maximum of $2 million for the breakdowns.