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Source: SMRT Facebook page.

SMRT to outsource more non-rail maintenance work to allow defects to be fixed faster

Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) has announced that it will outsource more of its non-rail maintenance work to improve the speed and quality of such work.

The transport operator, which is now 100% owned by Temasek Holdings company, has outsourced the servicing of its tunnel pumps which pumps water out from the tunnels in the event of rain or flooding of the tunnels.

It was found through investigations that malfunction sump pumps were the cause of the tunnel flooding on 7 October at Bishan depot and that there had been no maintenance work performed on the pumps by maintenance staff. 8 staff connected to the fabrication of maintenance records on the sumps, either by failure to perform the duties or lapse in supervision, were then dismissed by the company.

SMRT also intends to outsource the maintenance of MRT station air-conditioning and tunnel ventilation systems, adding to an already long list of work which is handled by external contractors.

Newly appointed Vice-president of Maintenance, Mr Siu Yow Wee responded to the Straits Times (ST) queries, saying that the move does not mean the company is washing its hands of risks associated with poor maintenance.

"We will not outsource our responsibility away. In tandem with the outsourcing move, SMRT maintenance staff will step up to supervisory or inspection roles," he said, explaining that outsourcing allows SMRT to fix defects across its network more speedily.

He also said that engaging an external contractor, some of whom are original equipment manufacturers, allows the operator to work on multiple sites concurrently as it can mobilise the contractor's manpower.

"We also leverage on the technology and specialised skillsets provided by the equipment manufacturers," he added.

To give a scale of non-rail maintenance work that SMRT has out-sourced, Mr Siu said that for aircon and ventilation alone, there are 146 chillers, 224 air-handling units and 355 pumps in the central aircon systems across its network. In addition, there are 3,900 split aircon units, 452 tunnel fans, and 4,300 other ventilation fans.

He stated that all these works are maintained by 160 employees who are part of a team of 600.

Functions which are outsourced now include cleaning services, and maintenance of fire protection, ceiling fans at station platform, lifts, plumbing and roofing. Meanwhile, external contractors also assist in the servicing of escalators, lights and platform screen doors.