Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cost of COI hearings amount to $10 million

SINGAPORE - The total cost of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearings have amounted to nearly $10 million, the Lianhe Zaobao reported on Friday.

The COI was set up to investigate the disruption of MRT train services on December 15 and 17 last year, which affected more than 200,000 people.

Over the course of six weeks, between April 16 and May 25, the COI heard in court the evidence of 116 witnesses, including ground staff, experts and former SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa.

According to a spokesperson from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the total cost of the hearings is close $10 million.

The cost will be split between SMRT and the LTA, with SMRT paying $5.9 million, and LTA bearing the rest of the cost of about $4 million.

LTA's $4 million will be included in its expenses incurred for the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, said the spokesperson.

The total sum of $10 million will go towards payment of lawyer fees as well as consultation fees for the panel of experts.

But the spokesperson stressed the importance of the COI however, and the need to engage a team of highly-qualified experts as well as lawyers.

After an eight-week inquiry, the COI found, among other issues, that the incidents were preventable.

In addition to the cost of the COI, train operator SMRT will also have to pay a fine of $2 million for the breakdowns.

The $2 million will be donated to the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares.

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