Singapore

SMRT replaces senior exec after tunnel flood

He was VP of maintenance when faulty pump system failed to remove water

SMRT has replaced a senior executive in charge of maintenance and systems after last Saturday's flooding of a tunnel on the North-South Line (NSL).

The rail operator told its staff in an internal circular yesterday that Mr Siu Yow Wee has been appointed director of building and services, taking over from Mr Ng Tek Poo, vice-president of maintenance.

Mr Siu will manage the entire building and services division and report to the senior vice-president of maintenance and engineering, the circular said.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Ng has been redeployed to another role.

In the incident, which rendered a large stretch of the NSL inoperable for about 20 hours, rain water entered the tunnel at Bishan where the tracks go underground.

Pumps installed to remove water from the tunnels in such situations did not kick in because a float switch was apparently stuck. The underground tracks were submerged in water at waist level at its deepest.

At least one train was stranded in the tunnel. Fortunately, passengers managed to disembark at Bishan before the train stalled.

On the same day, a fire broke out in the tunnel between Marina Bay and Raffles Place stations. Although the cause has not been ascertained, past tunnel fires have been traced to short circuits caused by water.

I am not saying the head has to come out all the time to say something, but this situation calls for it. Mr Harish Pillay, a fellow of the Institution of Engineers Singapore

Asked to comment, SMRT vice-president for corporate communications Patrick Nathan said: "We do not comment on staff matters. We are strengthening our building and facilities team in the light of last weekend's disruption."

Mr Ng was a key witness at a public inquiry following two major rail disruptions in December 2011.

The inquiry concluded that shortcomings in maintenance were a major contributing factor in the breakdowns.

Commenting on SMRT's move to replace Mr Ng, Mr Harish Pillay, a fellow of the Institution of Engineers Singapore, said: "We are not hearing any voice from the top on this (flooding) issue. I am not saying the head has to come out all the time to say something, but this situation calls for it."

smrtfloodsBishan