SMRT’s Director of Control Operations, Teo Wee Kiat, was fined $55,000 in court last Friday over the untimely deaths of 2 trainee staff members, who were hit by a passenger train on 22 March last year.
The 41-year-old admitted that he failed to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of SMRT’s employees and failed to ensure that they complied with approved operating procedures during traffic hours. He also admitted that he failed to ensure the procedures passed safety audits and making sure that they were documented and disseminated.
The prosecution argued that the Operations Control Center under Teo’s charge had permitted employees to access the tracks while live trains were running – this is apparently in direct contravention of safety standards. The Ministry of Manpower further asserted that such practices date all the way back to 2002.
Both men who were killed, Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 25, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, joined SMRT in January 2016 and were part of a technical team of 15 that went down to the track to investigate a reported alarm from a condition monitoring device for signalling equipment. Track access was authorised and the men had been on the walkway alongside the track.
SMRT’s CEO, Desmond Kuek, confirmed soon after the accident on 22 Feb that the maintenance investigation was a “supervised activity” and that a supervisor had been walking in front of the two men killed. However, SMRT has now acknowledged that safety protocols were not followed in the lead-up to an accident.
SMRT’s safety protocols require the maintenance staff must coordinate with the Signal unit at the station for oncoming trains to be brought to a stop, and to ensure that no trains enter the affected area before they step on the trackway. SMRT said that its records do not show that this procedure took place.
Mr Kuek had on 22 Feb said, “exactly how they got on to the track, or got close enough to the oncoming train, that was moving in the direction opposite to them, is the issue that we’re trying to establish with the witnesses that we are trying to get detailed accounts from.”
Following this, several news outlets reported that the victims of the tragic accident near Pasir Ris station “were on the other side of the track from the dedicated walkway for maintenance staff when they were hit by the train.”
In response, SMRT only said that it is unable to confirm if the victims were on the trackway or on the walkway when they were hit, or if anyone in the group had deviated from the walkway at any point in time.
SMRT has since been fined $400,000 for the accident.