Singapore

SMRT suspends team linked to tunnel flood

Bishan depot pump system maintenance team suspended

Train operator SMRT has found that the team responsible for maintaining a pump system that malfunctioned may have falsified documents by signing off on work that they had not done.

It is suspected that such falsification of maintenance records could stretch all the way back to December last year.

The lapses led to a 20-hour disruption on a section of the North-South Line last month as a train tunnel flooded after a heavy downpour.

The manager and staff responsible for the maintenance of that Bishan depot pump system have been suspended and are assisting in investigations, added SMRT in a statement yesterday evening. It said preliminary reports found that records for quarterly maintenance work as far back as December last year, and in March and June this year, were signed and submitted.

But records show the pumps were not activated on these dates, an action that would be required as part of the maintenance procedure. Nor was access to tracks issued.

The Land Transport Authority will evaluate SMRT's findings on the suspected falsification of maintenance records and make its recommendation on the penalties after full investigations.

EXTERNAL EXPERTS

Moving forward, SMRT said that it would engage external experts to do a system-wide inspection of critical systems.

These experts will also help to step up quality control surveillance of all preventive maintenance work.

SMRT will also form a new Joint Readiness Inspection team - with 50 people - which will report independently to SMRT's Board of Audit and Risk Committee and also to the LTA/SMRT Joint Board Technical Committee.

SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming said: "SMRT has zero tolerance for failures in supervision and diligence over maintenance tasks. We do not condone any acts of dishonesty and dereliction of responsibility, whether by management or staff. All who are accountable will be disciplined sternly, regardless of rank and position. Accordingly, the relevant management chain of command in SMRT must be held accountable."

The National Transport Workers' Union said that it would ensure any disciplinary action taken by SMRT against its workers would be fair and appropriate.

It also urged SMRT to make training for its workers as one of its top-most priorities.

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