Patrick Nathan

Netizens up in arms over unjustified dismissal of SMRT train driver

It has been reported that the SMRT Corporation had fired the train driver who was involved in the fatal accident on 22 March, that claimed the lives of two SMRT maintenance staff along the track at a servicing point near Pasir Ris station.

Mr Rahmat Mohd, 49, the train driver involved in the accident in March, had been assigned to a non-driving job after the accident. According to The Straits Times, he was called to the SMRT office yesterday for an internal inquiry and discharged right away afterward.

Mr Rahmat is quoted to have said, “I feel sad, I have no plan at the moment.”

According to its sources, ST reported that a SMRT staff in the control center has also left as the result of the accident, preceding Mr Rahmat.

In response to its queries, SMRT spokesman, Patrick Nathan, said the company does not give comment about staff disciplinary matters. This non-answer somewhat confirms that Mr Rahmat had been dismissed based on disciplinary reasons.

The two victims, Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were SRMT maintenance workers trainees. They were tasked to examine a signaling condition monitoring device along the tracks near Pasir Ris MRT Station, along with a joint engineering team.

Based on the findings by an Accident Review Panel formed to seek out the cause of the fatal accident, it is discovered that the vital safety protection measure of setting a code to ensure the speed limit on the affected track sector to 0 km/h so that no train can enter on automated mode was not applied. Neither was the deployment of watchmen to look out for approaching trains and provide early warning to the work team.

The panel noted that as the train was on automated mode when the accident happened, he was unable to prevent the accident despite having applied emergency brakes immediately when he saw the staff on the track.

It is uncertain why the train driver was fired given that the panel has not pinned any responsibility of the accident to the driver.

Given that the findings of the panel found systematic lapses of safety measures which resulted in the tragic accident, however after coming close to six months, SMRT has not shed light on why the lapses took place in the first place and who was involved in lapses to ensure that the safety measures were not enforced despite giving the go-ahead to go onto the tracks.


Netizens who followed up the story were outraged and questioned the decision by the company. Here are some of the comments posted :

  • Jeannie Tifinny Tara wrote, “The CEO should be sack for not doing his job to see that procedures are followed. Stop killing the’ ikan bilis’ to answer for your failure Desmond Kuek! A good CEO takes the fall for failure. Good for nothing paper general, go back and be a pen-pusher in the army!”
  • Choo Choo wrote, “The driver is not at fault at all… The fault should lie on who bring them to walk on the track without even checking on the condition…WHY is that person do not need to answer for his fault at all!”
  • Wei Seng Teo wrote, “There are a lot of missing details. Lapses included allowing a train to ply in automatic mode while workers were on site, not deploying watchmen to look out for approaching trains, and failing to provide early warning to the work team. Was the train drivers informed there are workers on site? If the driver was not informed, he should not be responsible.”
  • Andrew Rvictor wrote, “Who is in charge of safety procedures when work or people are on the track, is the driver the guy that wrote and implemented the safety protocols for train safety and work procedures? Is the driver in charge of placing the watchman when he is in charge of the train?
    Why in the first place is there an active train running on the same track where there are workers, doesn’t make sense. If there are people on the track, should there be trains running in the first place or if there are trains running should workers be allowed to be on the track? Yes, there maybe many lawyers that can defend the driver if need be, but he is a nobody and any lawyer worth his salt is not going to go against the big boys you do not get rich and famous that way.”
  • Thou Zen wrote, “The main culprit is the lapse in entering the track. That why the train is still in auto mode. The train must be in a manual so the driver can look out and communicate with the track personnel. Be transparent to the public in your investigation lah. Don’t just say the driver sleeping on the job and the control is playing checkers. An easy way out for the death of two young innocent victims.”
  • Koh Wee Leng wrote, “While I am serving the National Service, as a sub-commander, we are taught even our men did something wrong , the responsibility fall on the sergeant .
    However, Our Ex-SAF Scholar Paper General who maybe did NOT pass out from OCS is quick to put the blame and fired the driver for his negligence while he is handsomely rewarded for the investigating the truth and sitting comfortably in air-con office counting his paycheck.
    Is LTA going to take stern action against him for the serials of blunders and hold him responsible for the demise of the 2 SMRT workers?”
  • Bernard Chia wrote, “SMRT got fault meh? It always tracks fault, train fault, signal fault, employees fault. Never SMRT fault.”
  • Andrew Loh wrote, “The higher-ups making scapegoats of the lower-downs. Such great leadership! What a boost to staff morale! Have to really salute the general and military officers in SMRT for such wonderful leadership!”
  • Eric Ng wrote, “Can anyone here give an example of a situation/incident where the responsibility cannot be pushed downwards and undertaken by the lowest in the organization?? Be it SMRT, LTA, SIA, MAS, SBS…? I think all here would agree that there is nothing that cannot be pushed downwards and furthermore done legally….and unfortunately, these people who take the blame are almost always the lowest paid…sad but true….”
  • Shenwei Teo wrote, “To sack the drivers means that there is evidence to support they were able to stop the train in time and not hit the trainees. If there is not evidence to show that they were able to stop in time, then the sacking in unreasonable. It is not like they drivers were able to swerve left or right to avoid hitting the trainees.”
  • Robert Ridzuandowski wrote, “They should release the full result of the investigations so that we know if the sacking was justified. Gonna be hard for them to find a job after this sacking.”
  • SK Tan wrote, “Congratulations SMRT! You just celebrated Hari Raya Haji by sacrificing a scapegoat. What we want is a good honest admission and accountability for lapses from the top.”
  • Darren Delong wrote, “The supervisor or manager who was conducting the inspection should be fully responsible because he is the one who should be ensuring the safety of his staff.”
  • Lui Yong Sheng wrote, “Just hope that the two, can find a new job and restart their career.”
  • Wong Yking wrote, “The only solution is to sack SMRT worker. Case close.”
  • Zhiyu Huang wrote, “If I remember correctly, a certain someone said it is a norm to stand technicians onto the tracks when the trains are in operation. It sounds like he agrees that such actions are okay. Will he be sacked too? I have learned a very long time ago to never believe anything unless hardcore evidence is produced. I DO NOT THINK THE DRIVER IS ALL FAULT BECAUSE NO HARDCORE EVIDENCE HAS BEEN PRODUCED!”
  • Simon Cheng wrote, “Why none of the TOP MANAGEMENT from LTA or SMRT got sacked!!!! how come, please, explain that to the public.”