SMRT, director among those charged over fatal train accident

SMRT, director among those charged over fatal train accident

SMRT Trains Ltd was charged under Section 12 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, while its director, Teo Wee Kiat, was also charged over the Mar 22 accident.

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SINGAPORE: Transport operator SMRT Trains Ltd, one of its directors as well as a former employee were on Thursday (Dec 1) charged over the Mar 22 accident that saw two trainees hit and killed by an oncoming train.

SMRT was charged under Section 12 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, which states that it is the duty of every employer to take measures necessary to ensure the safety and health of employees at work so far as is reasonably practicable.

It had failed to ensure its employees complied with approved operating procedures when heading down to the tracks, and failed to ensure that the procedures practised by staff that day to access the tracks passed safety audits, were documented and disseminated, the charge sheet stated.

SMRT Chief Technology Officer Ng Bor Kiat was in court on Thursday to receive the charge on behalf of the company.

One of its directors, Teo Wee Kiat, was also charged under Section 48 (1) of the same Act, which states that should an offence be committed by a corporate body, an officer of this body shall be guilty of the offence and be liable to be punished.

According to the law, anybody found guilty under this Act and has no penalty expressly provided shall be liable to a fine not more than S$200,000 or jail of up to two years, or both. If it is the case of a corporate body, the fine is up to S$500,000.

In addition, prosecutors also charged Lim Say Heng, the technician who is understood to be standing ahead of the two trainees when the incident took place, with causing death by a negligent act under the Penal Code.

Lim was the person in charge of the work party accessing the train tracks that day, and he failed to ensure that the necessary safety measures were in place to make sure trains do not enter the train track while they were there, according to the charge sheet.

Channel NewsAsia understands that Lim was sacked by SMRT in September over the incident.

He faces a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both, if found guilty.

Investigations are still ongoing to determine if any other individuals may be liable for workplace safety lapses in connection with the incident, the Attorney-General's Chambers said in a press release.

A bail of S$15,000 has been offered to Lim, and pre-trial conference has been set on Dec 30 for all three charges.

On Mar 22, SMRT trainees Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were killed after they were hit by an oncoming train near Pasir Ris MRT station. The two men were part of a team investigating a possible fault involving a signalling device on the tracks.

The public transport operator admitted after the accident that maintenance staff had not followed safety procedures.

The two SMRT staff had been sacked in September, with one of them said to be the driver of the train that hit the two trainees.

The National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) subsequently submitted an appeal to SMRT management against their dismissal, after it had reviewed their cases.

In a statement following the charges on Thursday, NTWU Executive Secretary Melvin Yong said the union will "continue to work closely with our member, to provide him and his family support, and to ensure he is fairly represented".

"Whilst we cannot comment on any ongoing legal proceedings, the union maintains that it is important to allow due process to take its course and all facts to be revealed before drawing any conclusions," Mr Yong added.

Source: CNA/kk