THE ROAD TO QUALITY
If he can no longer review cars, our senior writer would welcome a second career as a road quality inspector.
THE best career advice I ever received was from an engineer I interviewed about six months ago. He told me that if I ever wanted a job for life, I should work for a company that’s trying to make the world a better place.
Of course, I also believe in doing a job that I’m passionate about. But lately, my job has seen fewer ups and more downs. So, I have been thinking about possible alternative careers that still involve cars and motoring.
I imagined defecting to the “dark side” by joining a carmaker, as other ex-journo friends have. Perhaps being an automotive product specialist is in my future. A corporate job with a car company sounds nice. It would bring me even closer to the cars I love, and my salary might even be double what I’m earning now. However, I’m not sure I can be as well-versed as an engineer
AS A ROAD QUALITY INSPECTOR, I WOULD BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE GOOD OF THE NATION.
when it comes to the technical nitty-gritty. Then again, I might be more of a natural as a product expert rather than a public relations executive. Because I’m shy by nature, socialising with strangers sounds like a recipe for an anxiety attack.
I pondered my interviewee’s advice further and realised that if I cannot review cars anymore, I should get a job as a road quality inspector. That occupation would definitely contribute to the good of the nation, since everyone is a road user.
Like many motorists, I am also tired of Singapore’s seemingly endless roadworks and poorly resurfaced roads. So how would I ensure that the quality of our roads will improve? First, I would do away with the practice of going with the contractor who submits the lowest bid for a project. I believe that this results in companies sacrificing quality in order to make their bids more attractive.
Instead, with the help of LTA scholars, I would compile a list of the most competent construction firms ever given contracts by the Government. Firms which have a great track record of completing projects successfully should be the only ones bidding for big Government contracts.
Perhaps I should also invite Japanese companies to participate, since most of the roads in Japan seem to be tofu-smooth.
I’m aware that tweaking the bidding process and weeding out blacklisted firms won’t be enough to guarantee an improvement in the overall quality of our roads. Therefore, I will need to employ the tried-and-tested Singaporean method of ensuring that firms do the job right: hefty fines.
It will be up to the contractor to set a reasonable/realistic project completion date, which the LTA scholars will adjust/approve based on similar past projects. Once the deadline has been set and approved, not meeting it will result in serious consequences – for every hour, not day, that a project is overdue, the firm will be fined $250,000!
Thereafter, the penalty per hour will double for each day that the project remains incomplete. This will drive home the point that roadworks not only cost money, but also lead to a loss in productivity due to increased traffic congestion. And under my watch, a project will be deemed incomplete until it passes muster with the other road quality inspectors from my unit. That means several of us have to drive over the resurfaced area to ensure it is as smooth as possible. Doing things this way may very well cost more. But as a road user, I would rather pay more for excellent results, instead of economising and suffering the consequences of shoddy workmanship.
AFTER ENSURING THAT ALL ROADS IN SINGAPORE ARE AS SMOOTH AS THOSE IN THE MCE, JEREMY WOULD FOCUS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF CURVIER ROADS FOR NICER DRIVING ROUTES.
Tofu-smooth highways would be part of Jeremy’s KPI if he ever becomes a road quality inspector.