SMRT revealed this week that a staff team responsible for maintaining a pump system at the Bishan depot signed off that work was being carried out, when no maintenance work was conducted on the system for nearly a year.
This revelation was made as SMRT released the preliminary findings of its investigation into a major service breakdown on 7 Oct, when Bishan MRT station was flooded due to a heavy downpour causing services on the North-South Line to be shut down for over 20 hours.
We re-publish the transport operator’s full statement:
Our investigation team will be completing and submitting its report soon. From preliminary reports, it appears that prescribed quarterly maintenance works for Dec 2016, March 2017 and June 2017 were not conducted as prescribed in our manual.
The maintenance records were signed off and submitted. However, our investigation reveals that there were no track access approvals issued for preventive maintenance of the Bishan portal sump pumps for these dates. Further pump records for the same dates show that the pumps were not activated on the stated maintenance dates, which would have been required as part of the maintenance procedure had the work been actually done.
The manager and staff responsible for the maintenance of the Bishan portal sump pump system have been suspended and are assisting in these investigations. We will be working with the union to ensure due process is followed.
Integrity and responsibility by our managers and supervisors are key, and constitute part of our core values. We are determined to correct these weak links swiftly and decisively and are implementing a series of measures to do so. These include:
a. Making appropriate changes to the management and maintenance team, where warranted;
b. Setting up a joint readiness inspection team that will supplement report to SMRT’s own audit system and which will independently report to a SMRT Board’s audit and risk committee. In addition, this joint readiness inspection team will together with LTA, report to the LTA/SMRT Joint Board Technical Committee. This will ensure that maintenance and asset renewal are independently audited and monitored in a systematic manner;
c. Engaging third-party subject matter experts to step up quality control surveillance of all preventive maintenance activities and conduct a system-wide inspection of critical systems. This will ensure that maintenance works are carried out in accordance with our specified standards; and
d. Intensifying training to establish a higher work responsibility and excellent culture within front line peer groups.
Mr Seah Moon Ming, chairman of SMRT Corporation and SMRT Trains, said: “As the new board chairman, I am here to work with the SMRT board and management to comprehensively identify and solve problems, as well as upgrade our train service systems, processes and people, so as to deliver safe, reliable and comfortable travel for our commuters.
“SMRT has zero tolerance for failures in supervision and diligence over maintenance tasks. We do not condone any acts of dishonesty and dereliction of responsibility, whether by management or staff. All who are accountable will be disciplined sternly, regardless of rank and position. Accordingly, the relevant management chain of command in SMRT must be held accountable.
“We expect all SMRT employees to carry out their daily work responsibly and with high integrity, to serve Singapore and our commuters better. Every SMRT staff must share this vision and collectively work towards regaining public trust and confidence.”
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) added that it was “deeply concerned” by SMRT’s findings. It said:
As the regulator, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) views breaches of all rail operating licences seriously. This includes those pertaining to the maintenance of the rail operating assets.
LTA is deeply concerned by SMRT’s findings that maintenance was not done at the Bishan sump pump. LTA will independently evaluate SMRT’s investigation findings on the suspected falsification of maintenance records into the 7 October tunnel flooding incident. LTA is carrying out a full investigation into the incident and will make its recommendation on the penalties to the LTA Board in due time.
To strengthen checks on SMRT’s maintenance audit and inspection regime as well as to supplement SMRT’s current efforts, LTA and SMRT will be setting up an independent joint readiness inspection team that reports to the joint LTA-SMRT board technical committee, which oversees maintenance and asset renewal.