SMRT replaces top executive after major shutdown of train services over the weekend

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picture credit: Goh Meng Seng

The Straits Times (ST) earlier today reported that Mr Ng Teck Poo, a senior executive in charge of maintenance and systems at SMRT, has been replaced after one of the worst MRT breakdowns in its history.

The North-South Line (NSL) faced a major shutdown on Saturday (7 October) after the MRT tunnel started flooding following a heavy downpour and the failure of the transport provider’s water-pumping system. Services were only fully restored 20-hours later, on Sunday morning.

ST reported that Mr Ng has not been terminated, but redeployed to another role within SMRT. SMRT only said that they were strengthening their Building and Facilities team in light of last weekend’s disruption. It also refused to comment on staff matters.

Mr Ng was a key witness at a public inquiry following two major rail disruptions in 2011. He told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) investigating the disruptions that the rail operator did not know that vibration could dislodge the metal claws holding the power supply third rail in place.

When queried by the COI as to why he did not report the problem of dropped claws to SMRT’s top management, Mr Ng defended the transport provider’s maintenance regime and replied that it happened ‘randomly and sporadically’. He explained that it was a problem maintenance engineers could explain and solve.

The Chairman of the COI rebuffed Mr Ng defense and said: “…if you had raised it and if you had dealt with that problem, we would not be here today.”

LTA and SMRT has earned the ire of commuters for routinely rolling out excuses during disruptions, without acknowledging or accepting responsibility for service breakdowns.

A letter writer to the ST argued two days ago that it appears no one has been held accountable for the problems plaguing SMRT’s train lines, Tan asserted that SMRT’s privatisation appears to have become a shield for it to evade public scrutiny and that the management continue to be rewarded as ordinary commuters continue to face struggles.

‘LTA and SMRT must shoulder the blame and be held accountable for persistent MRT issues’ – Fierce forum letter goes viral

58 COMMENTS

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    Damn u PAP only know how to find scapegoat. Why don’t u just commit harakiri. When a ship sinks, the captain goes down with the ship. Even in Taiwan when there was a blackout, the top guy oneself quit. Only in Sg they continue to hide in their office n draw million dollar salary. 70%, this is the gvt u voted for. Wake up!

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    They have finally managed to get a pretty high level scapegoat BUT this is not enough! The CEO MUST tender his resignation! The people will then decide whether to accept it or not. Its not for the owners to decide because SMRT is a public utility whether they like it or not!

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    so i went into smrt’s website to have a peek.
    Under senior management: MARIO FAVAITS -Managing Director, Singapore Rail Engineering. his linkedin states that he is a belgian and he has plenty of skills including 6sigma, game theory, continuous improvement(?). One wonders why a FT in a senior position of a SINGAPOREAN company with a 6SIGMA under his belt has not been fired for all the train issues.
    On the board of directors: MOLIAH HASHIM – she is in education and holds credentials in….education. one wonders why an educator is sitting on the board of a transport/engineering company.

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    update on the peek into smrt’s board. if grades can be linked to train service, i vote we fire these grossly overpaid, overqualified(/sarc), underworked scholars with first class honours from prestigious universities and replace them with street smart fellas who have only completed p6 education and have gone thru the university of life.

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    This SMRT paper general CEO must go. PAP kept him there simply to pay his “retirement” benefits; he knew perfectly well that he is incapable of running the show and there’s no need of him to do so but nevertheless his pay check is safe as long as PAP is the G which does not have the word “accountability” in their vocabulary.