Singaporeans have expressed outrage online over news that SMRT staff falsified paperwork that maintenance was done on a pump system at Bishan Depot when no work was carried out for almost one year.
This revelation was made as SMRT released yesterday 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.
The investigation uncovered that a staff team, which was supposed to conduct maintenance works for the pump system every three months, had not done any work since December last year. The lapse was discovered when the probe showed that there were no track access approvals granted for the maintenance of the pumps in December 2016, March 2017 and June 2017 – dates when the crew claimed and recorded that they had conducted maintenance. Pump records showed that the pumps were also not activated on the dates that the crew claimed to have done work, as well.
The transport operator has since suspended the manager and staff members in the maintenance team, pending further investigations.
Singaporeans responding to the news online have asked whether maintenance works on rail infrastructure are even audited by SMRT.
Netizens asked online: if works are audited, why wasn’t the records falsification detected earlier?
Others expressed serious concerns that this incident may just be the tip of the iceberg of such issues within SMRT, where records can be falsified and systems are not checked until it is far too late:
SMRT Corporation chairman Seah Moon Ming asserted yesterday:
“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.”
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) added that it was “deeply concerned” by SMRT’s findings. Asserting that it will “independently evaluate SMRT’s investigation findings on the suspected falsification of maintenance records,” it said:
“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.”
LTA stressed that rail operating licence breaches are viewed seriously, including breaches related to the maintenance of the rail operating assets.