SMRT track accident

SMRT track accident: Families of dead duo planning joint prayers

The funerals of SMRT trainees Muhammad Asyraf and Nasrulhudin at the Muslim cemetery in Lim Chu Kang on Wednesday. The two men were killed on Tuesday when they were hit by an oncoming train.
The funerals of SMRT trainees Muhammad Asyraf and Nasrulhudin at the Muslim cemetery in Lim Chu Kang on Wednesday. The two men were killed on Tuesday when they were hit by an oncoming train.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Meanwhile, SMRT chief calls on his staff to ensure 'such a tragedy never happens again'

The families of the two SMRT trainees hit and killed by an oncoming train on Tuesday are planning to hold joint prayers next week to mourn their loss, said an uncle of one of the dead men.

Relatives said both families are struggling to cope with the sudden deaths of Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24.

"We'll be having prayers every day... We also invited the other family to join us (next week), for a combined prayer for the deceased," said Mr Bakhtiar Ahmad, 63, an uncle of Mr Muhammad Asyraf.

The two trainees were among 15 technical staff investigating a possible fault with a point machine used for trains to change tracks.

They were struck by an oncoming train near Pasir Ris station while walking towards the machine.

When asked about a statement by SMRT on Wednesday revealing that a key safety procedure had not been followed, Mr Nasrulhudin's older brother Nisham, 32, said: "We have no comments on SMRT's statement. We hope to wait for the complete picture after investigations are over."

Said Mr Bakhtiar: "We don't want to speculate. Let the authorities do what they are supposed to."

In an e-mail message to all staff yesterday obtained by The Straits Times, SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek said "our efforts must now be to make sure such a tragedy never happens again".

"Clearly there is much more that can and must be done everywhere to make our workplace safer for all our staff," he wrote.

In the wake of the accident, industry observers also weighed in on SMRT's safety protocols. "The investigation should reveal why 15 people needed to go down just to inspect a fault. There may be a valid reason, but it's yet to be known," said Mr Rajan Krishnan, chief executive of engineering firm KTC group.

According to SMRT, the 15 staff comprised six engineers, five technical officers and four trainees.

A rail engineer, who spoke to ST on condition of anonymity, asked if there was a worker assigned to keep a lookout for oncoming trains, or a controller for site safety.

He said that whenever a track excursion is required, one person among the group should be responsible for the safety of everyone else.

"His job is not to hold a shovel or anything like that, but to set up a safe system of work. He has to calculate the speed of the train and the sighting distance that you have, so that you obtain the required warning time to get out of the track and into a place of safety," he added.

SEE OPINION

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'SMRT track accident Families of dead duo planning joint prayers'. Print Edition | Subscribe