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SMRT’s internal investigation concluded, staff suspended over falsified records of scheduled maintenance, pending disciplinary proceedings

SMRT has announced that its internal investigation into the maintenance of the Bishan Water Discharge System has been completed and will be carrying out disciplinary proceedings against six members of the maintenance group in light of falsified scheduled maintenance works on the sump pump.

On 7 October (Saturday), a malfunctioning water-pumping system caused the underground tunnel at Bishan to flood and interrupted train services along North South Line, causing services across six stops to cease from Saturday afternoon till Sunday afternoon. The faulty system sent water overflowing from the stormwater sump pit, where rainwater accumulates, into the tunnel through the rail tracks where trains from Bishan travel underground towards Braddell. As a result of the flooding, SMRT was forced to de-activate the trackside power supply as a safety precaution, crippling services from Ang Mo Kio to Newton stations until Sunday afternoon. The disruption affected the journeys of thousands in one of the worst rail trip-ups since 2011.

In its press release, SMRT pointed out that its investigation revealed that there were instances of falsified records of scheduled maintenance works by the assigned maintenance team for the Bishan portal sump pump last carried out corrective maintenance works on 13 July 2017. The team of six members from the Building & Facilities Maintenance group comprised a manager, an engineering supervisor and four other crew members.  A further inquiry is being conducted against seven other managerial staff from this Maintenance group, including two Vice-President level executives.

All have been suspended, with respect to their discharge of supervisory responsibility. SMRT reiterates in its press release of its strong stand of having zero tolerance for failures in supervision and diligence over maintenance tasks. "As part of our value system of shared responsibility and accountability, the company will also take this Incident into account when reviewing the remuneration of its senior management, from the CEO through the relevant chain of command."

The company also noted that the Land Transport Authority (LTA)'s separate technical investigations into the Bishan Tunnel flooding incident are ongoing with its participation.

SMRT had earlier extended an amnesty to all staff who step forward and voluntarily report gaps, which ended on 3 November 2017, and a number of submissions relating to scheduled maintenance works not being carried out have been received from the Building & Facilities Maintenance group, which is also responsible for the Bishan water discharge system. The company is now studying the returns.

The heads of all SMRT's other Trains maintenance units, such as rolling stock, signalling and communications, permanent way and power maintenance, have conducted a further assessment and affirmed continuing compliance with specified maintenance standards. According to SMRT, in addition to its Internal Audit and Inspectorate teams, the newly formed Joint Readiness Inspection team will step up on enforcement of ground practices and standards.

"SMRT will continue our journey to instil our core values of discipline, integrity and ownership. We will sharpen our performance management processes, further streamline organisational structures and strengthen the line of sight and accountability so we can steer our teams to achieve higher standards in safety, service and reliability outcomes. We will also enhance the training support for our supervisors so that they are better enabled and empowered to carry out their duties well."