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

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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.

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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.

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