SINCE the beginning of the year, the Government has organised various mock terror attacks to gauge and improve Singapore's readiness to cope with such catastrophes.
However, as a senior security supervisor on a worksite in the western part of Singapore, my experience when a bomb was discovered on our worksite makes me wonder if we are ready to face the threat of terrorism.
Last Thursday, at about 4.30pm, a bomb (probably a World War II relic) was discovered on our worksite. The police were notified five minutes later and a corporal from Queenstown Police Station arrived on the scene. It was more than 45 minutes later, at 5.18pm, that an officer from police explosives team confirmed it was a bomb. By then, the area had been cordoned off.
At 6.25pm, a police assistant superintendent, who was the investigating officer, arrived but there was still no sign of the bomb disposal unit. At 7.45pm, a lone second lieutenant from the unit arrived but was unable to remove or dispose of the bomb.
Finally, at about 8pm, a unit from the explosives ordnance department arrived. At 8.18pm, a search dog was brought to locate other possible bombs. Only at 9pm was the bomb safely removed from the scene.
I am disappointed by the slow response time of the bomb disposal unit. Why did it take them nearly three hours to arrive after the bomb was confirmed at 5.18pm? What if the bomb had exploded in those three hours?
I understand the bomb disposal unit needs to follow certain standard operating procedures but does it really need to take three hours?
It is fortunate the bomb was found at the edge of the worksite. Had it been on the worksite itself, it would not only have posed a greater risk to workers but also have resulted in considerable economic loss because of the time the bomb disposal unit took to arrive.
If we are so slow to act on a single bomb threat, how can we cope with a terror attack on even the smallest scale?
I hope this is an isolated incident that does not reflect on the overall operational readiness of the bomb disposal unit.
Neo Poh Goon