Safety is on all of us

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Safety is on all of us


A few days ago, I fell asleep as I felt the wheels of the airplane start to turn. When I thought that I would soon arrive at my destination, an announcement said that the flight may or may not operate due to safety concerns. It was about 30 minutes after the departure time. Passengers didn’t seem to be stirred.
Then, I saw a friend’s post about the Guui Station accident. He was furious that a worker was killed at 5:57 pm, and the subway resumed operations 26 minutes later.

“When an accident happens, it takes at least one hour for rescue workers to arrive. But it takes just 20 minutes to settle the scene. Do we really need such amazing speed to fix the screen door and resume train operation?”

This is inconceivable. In the United Kingdom, train service is suspended for half a day when an incident involves death. Delays due to signal problems are more common. I have been stuck in the train for 20 minutes and seen the platform emptied to transport a patient. Safety issues are part of daily life here.

Then I read that Seoul Metro apologized for the delay. At first, I heard the authorities blamed the dead worker. The secularism frightened me, as they seemed to be more sorry for the sum of temporary inconvenience to all living passengers than for the loss of life.

Technicians boarded the airplane. Thirty minutes later, another announcement was made that the issue was not related to safety, and the flight would be ready as soon as related paperwork was cleared. Passengers remained calm. Another 30 minutes later, the crew said there was a delay due to a thunderstorm, and the first sigh of frustration, “Jesus,” was heard.

An email from Transport for London was in my inbox, a notice about suspended operation of some lines for construction and renovation.

Was it really so urgent to fix the screen door? How about directing passengers not to use the door in question? Signs can be put up, and station staff can be there to help passengers.

Rather than doing what can be done immediately, Koreans seem to seek “solutions” that require time and investment. Responsibility for accidents is also blamed on a few people. The truth of the big picture is ignored.

We cannot expect convenient, speedy and safe service without paying the price of money, time and inconvenience. In the end, someone has to pay the price, and it is often those at the bottom of the ladder. We ignore the uncomfortable truth, and none of us are blameless.

Finally, the flight departed after a two-hour delay and arrived two hours after the scheduled time. But both the passengers and crew members parted with smiles just like any other flight. It may sound obvious, but safety is maintained by all of us.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 3, Page 31

*The author is the London correspondent for the JoongAng Ilbo.

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