MRT tunnel flooding: Bishan maintenance team leader removed; staff bonuses affected

MRT tunnel flooding: Bishan maintenance team leader removed; staff bonuses affected

Seah Moon Ming on SMRT flooding
SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming at a dialogue on Oct 16 about a flooding incident in MRT tunnels.

SINGAPORE: The leader of a team in charge of anti-flooding maintenance was removed and the bonuses of the team's members will be affected, SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming said on Monday (Oct 16) at a dialogue on train disruptions caused by a flooding incident.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said at a media conference on the Oct 7 flooding of the MRT tunnel between Bishan and Braddell stations on the North-South Line that the the maintenance team had "failed" commuters. The flooding resulted in train disruptions that affected more than a quarter of a million commuters. 

The incident was preventable, and the anti-flooding system there was poorly maintained, Mr Khaw said.

"When the incident occurred, I decided to remove the team leader immediately. I think the team members' bonuses will be affected," Mr Seah said, adding that their bosses' bonuses will also be impacted.

"Today we show that we take full responsibility of the failure and we definitely take full responsibility for the transport services we provide," he said.

Mr Seah added: "If the thing fails, due to whatever reason, you take responsibility ... that's the message to each and everyone in SMRT."


SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek said SMRT's internal investigation and disciplinary process will "take its course".

Responding to questions about the replacement of SMRT's vice-president for maintenance after the flooding, Mr Kuek said it is not "just one person's (fault), but because he’s the head of this particular function, we removed him from his responsibilities there."

This allows SMRT to "investigate into the entire work flow, processes and culture in that sub-unit in a more open and transparent way", he said.

"It may not end up as one person; there will be a whole process of disciplinary proceedings and investigations that will take their course," he added.

Mr Kuek said earlier that there were some "deep-seated cultural issues" in the company which needed more time than expected to root out.

He pointed out that the level of accountability by supervisors was an area that needed to be strengthened.

This includes "the level of ownership and responsibility over what’s not working well ... (as well as) the openness in which some issues are reported," he said.

Mr Seah highlighted that SMRT appointed on Oct 1 a chief maintenance officer to provide focus on all maintenance functions and operations. A new future systems division, led by the chief technology officer, will help assess and deploy technology for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, SMRT said in a press release. This is part of a restructuring that will also see the set up of a buildings and facilities maintenance group.

Source: CNA/hm