THE Singapore Flyer is likely to stay shut until at least the New Year as investigations get underway into what caused the six-hour breakdown on Tuesday which required rescuers to lower 11 stranded passengers to the ground by rope.
Yesterday, tourists and locals hoping for a sky-high view of Singapore from the world's largest observation wheel were turned away as the Flyer stayed shut by order of the Singapore Police Force.
The Flyer requires a public entertainment licence to operate. As the licensing authority, the police said they will allow operations to resume only after the Flyer's structural and mechanical systems are certified safe by an internationally recognised body.
Police are also investigating whether any of the licensing conditions were breached, although at this time 'there is no evidence to suggest that the incident was deliberate'.
Working with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Flyer's management and independent experts, police investigations will look into how the problem occurred, how it can be prevented and what measures can put in place to enhance passenger safety.
Senior management from the Ministry of Home Affairs will oversee the investigations, said the police statement.
It added: 'It is premature at this stage to say how long this process will take.'
The Flyer's general manager Steven Yeo added: 'At this point in time, we are not able to tell you but it is unlikely to be ready by New Year.'
Flyer officials and engineers from the builders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries were on the scene looking into how a fire in the control room on the third floor of the complex led to a short-circuit that brought the wheel to a grinding halt.
One question many passengers had was whether winching them down to the ground was the best way to rescue them. In Britain, the London Eye is designed such that it can be turned manually by staff, even if the back-up power fails.
Mr Yeo said the bigger Flyer is not designed for such movement.
The company hired Dive Marine to provide rescue services. Rescue drills were conducted before and after the Flyer opened in February.
'We did two training sessions and carried out an assessment so our men are familiar with the Flyer,' said Mr Sean Tan, 33, Dive Marine's rope access division manager. Dive Marine has suggested that first-aid kits as well as food and water supplies be stored in each capsule, as is the case in the London Eye.
Mr Yeo said they had discussed this a few weeks ago but it was 'unfortunate' that the measures were not put in place before Tuesday's incident. He said: 'The fortunate thing about Singapore is that the weather is actually quite mild and we don't have the type of problems which London would have.'
The rescuers also propose obtaining devices that will automatically lower a person in a rope harness, instead of having to do this manually.
Mr Yeo said they will look into what extra measures are needed.
Despite four stoppages in 10 months, the Singapore Tourism Board 'expects the impact of this incident on Singapore's overall appeal as a destination to be limited over the longer term', according to the director for cluster development, Ms Jeannie Lim.