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Photo source: sgtrains.com

8 SMRT staff connected to pump maintenance which led to flooding, dismissed as internal investigation and disciplinary inquiry concludes

In a press release dated 27 Nov, SMRT announces that its internal investigation and disciplinary inquiry (DI) into the staff responsible for the pump maintenance at the Bishan-Braddell tunnel have been concluded.

Based on the DI’s findings and recommendations, 13 staff have been found responsible.

Of these, eight staff have been dismissed in accordance with SMRT’s disciplinary framework. The dismissed staff comprise of the staff in the work team who had falsified pump maintenance records, and the Managers and Senior Executive who were in charge of ensuring that pump maintenance was duly carried out during the period. They are made up of one Senior Executive, two Managers and five Technical Staff.

Investigations by SMRT have also found that Vice President Tay Tien Seng and Senior Manager Ivan Kok had failed to exercise sufficient supervision during the period when the falsification of the pump maintenance records occurred. As they are no longer with the company, SMRT states that it reserves its right to pursue legal action against them as may be appropriate.

Three other Management Executives, including a Vice President, have also been disciplined according to SMRT's internal disciplinary framework for failing to exercise the due care and diligence expected of them in relation to the maintenance of the pumps.

On 7 October (Saturday), train services on the North-South line were affected by flooding in the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations. SMRT had to cut off trackside power supply as a safety precaution, causing service on six stops across the NSL to be disabled for about 20 hours. More than a quarter of a million commuters were affected in the country’s first disruption due to flooding and making it one of SMRT’s worst breakdowns in recent history.

It was subsequently revealed that the sump pump which was supposed to pump rainwater out had malfunctioned. It was also noted that the maintenance had not been performed for the pumps and that the records had been falsified. Following the revelation, SMRT moved in to transfer its Vice President of Maintenance with another appointee.

SMRT states that it has strengthened its maintenance processes and supervisory checks in light of the incident and have made critical personnel changes to the management and maintenance team.  It notes that it has set up a Joint Readiness Inspection team to ensure that maintenance and asset replacement are independently audited and monitored in a systematic way. Third-party Qualified Persons and Subject Matter Experts are being engaged to enhance quality control surveillance of all maintenance activities and conduct a system-wide review of critical systems. Leadership training for mid-level supervisors and managers is also being stepped up.