Top Stories

He faces good, bad and ugly commuters

HELPFUL: While an attractive salary first drew Redhill MRT station manager Ali to join SMRT, he has come to develop a passion for serving others.


    Apr 29, 2014

    He faces good, bad and ugly commuters

    FROM frayed tempers to violent encounters, Redhill Station manager Mohamud Ali Vin Kotheri has seen it all in his 22 years working with train operator SMRT.

    Dealing with customers of all kinds - the good, the bad and the ugly - is just part and parcel of Mr Ali's job.

    Early last year, for instance, a woman took her anger out on him when her ez-link card went missing at his station.

    "She was banging her fists on the customer-service centre counter, saying that the MRT gantry must have done something to her card," recalled the 52-year-old.

    But Mr Ali just listened patiently to the woman's rants and offered her a cup of coffee, before asking her to look through her bag again.

    Lo and behold, she found her card in a side compartment of her bag. "I was happy enough to have made her come to her senses," he told My Paper.

    Last year, Mr Ali even had to break up a quarrel between two commuters, who literally crossed paths - one of them had apparently elbowed the other on her way out.

    To minimise commuter frustrations, Mr Ali has to keep a keen eye on the operations at the station.

    This ranges from the critical task of dispatching traction currents to stop a train in case of emergencies, to ensuring lifts and escalators continue running.

    In fact, he clocks at least 5km every day while making his rounds. This includes walking the station platform, which measures about 150m long, 10 to 15 times a day.

    "In the first or second year of joining SMRT, I felt like quitting, because there was just so much work to do every day," said Mr Ali with a laugh.

    While an attractive salary first drew him to join SMRT in 1992, the former policeman has come to develop a passion for what he was doing - serving others. "It gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing I can help people," he said.

    While Mr Ali acknowledges that commuters are becoming more demanding, he also sees it as an opportunity to deliver better, quicker transport and quality service.

    "Their clarity in defining what they want has helped me and my colleagues understand their needs better, so that we can offer solutions to service them in a more efficient manner."