SMRT finds more faulty pumps in tunnels
Khaw Boon Wan: SMRT probing maintenance teams at Kembangan and Lavender where pumps are located
After last month's MRT tunnel flooding incident at Bishan, SMRT's checks uncovered more faulty anti-flooding pumps at two MRT tunnel portals.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament yesterday that the rail operator found two out of eight pumps at Kembangan and three out of four pumps at Lavender were "not in serviceable condition".
The pumps have been fixed or replaced. The anti-flooding systems at the remaining Redhill and Changi tunnel portals passed the checks.
SMRT is now investigating the teams responsible for Kembangan and Lavender, Mr Khaw said in a ministerial statement.
They are part of the Building and Facilities maintenance group, where a team of six were found to have falsified maintenance records of Bishan's anti-flooding system, going as far back as last December.
When the pumps failed on Oct 7, rainwater flooded the tunnel and disrupted train services on a stretch of the North-South line for about 20 hours, affecting 250,000 commuters.
The six employees have been disciplined, SMRT said on Monday.
Mr Khaw said they comprised a manager, an engineering supervisor and four crew members. Three have been with SMRT for more than 20 years, and the newest for about a year.
Another seven managers from the maintenance group, including two vice-presidents, have been suspended pending investigations.
There is no evidence of "falsification or wilful dereliction of duties" in other teams responsible for the maintenance of trains, signalling and communications, tracks and trackside equipment and power, he added.
As the Bishan incident was clearly due to a maintenance lapse, there is no need for a Committee of Inquiry, Mr Khaw said.
He also outlined measures being taken to prevent a recurrence of the flooding incident - from improving the design of the Bishan water pump system to adding a new radar-based sensor system to independently monitor water levels in a storm water pit.
SMRT will also carry out monthly maintenance of flood protection systems, instead of quarterly.
There are also plans to improve coordination with the Singapore Civil Defence Force and national water agency PUB through regular exercises.
SMRT has also invited a team of experts from the Taipei Metro to do an independent review of its operations to "flush out any gaps" and make recommendations.
As the regulator, the Land Transport Authority will partner SMRT to form a new Joint Readiness Inspection team to supplement SMRT's own internal audit system, said Mr Khaw.
"However, no regulatory oversight can fully guard against intentional efforts to hide mistakes and negligence. Our operators' efforts to create the right organisational culture of professionalism, excellence and discipline are therefore important and complement the audit systems in place."
Revealing that the SMRT board will "review the remuneration of its senior management, from the CEO through the relevant chain of command", Mr Khaw said: "This is as it should be."
Referring to chief executive Desmond Kuek's earlier comments about "deep-seated cultural issues" in SMRT, the minister added: "It is the responsibility of management to set the right culture of professionalism and excellence. It begins from the top. And if there is poor culture, the CEO is responsible."
"It's still about leadership, about how we propagate that kind of culture, encourage this feedback from your workers, and work closely with them."