SMRT replaces senior exec after flooding incident

It redeploys vice-president of maintenance after N-S Line disruption

Officers from Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), PUB, Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT worked through the night on Oct 7, 2017 to clear the water in the tunnel between Bishan and Braddell stations.

Rail operator SMRT has replaced a senior executive in charge of maintenance and systems after last Saturday's flooding of a tunnel in the North-South Line.

In an internal circular, SMRT announced to its staff yesterday that Mr Siu Yow Wee was appointed director of building and services with effect from yesterday, taking over from Mr Ng Tek Poo, vice-president of maintenance.

Mr Siu will manage the entire building and services division and report to the senior vice-president of maintenance and engineering, the circular read.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Ng has been redeployed to another role.

In last Saturday's incident, which rendered a large stretch of the North-South Line inoperable for about 20 hours, rain water entered the tunnel via an opening at Bishan where the underground tracks join the surface tracks.

Pumps installed to remove water from the tunnels in such situations did not kick in because a float switch was apparently stuck.

As a result, the underground tracks were submerged in water at waist level at its deepest. At least one train was stranded in the tunnel flooding. Fortunately, passengers managed to disembark at Bishan before the train stalled.

On the same day, a fire broke out in a tunnel between Marina Bay and Raffles Place stations. Although the cause has not been ascertained, past tunnel fires have been traced to short circuits caused by water.

Asked for comments, SMRT vice-president for corporate communications Patrick Nathan said: "We do not comment on staff matters. We are strengthening our building and facilities team in the light of last weekend's disruption."

Mr Ng was a key witness at a public inquiry following two major rail disruptions in 2011. The inquiry concluded that shortcomings in maintenance were a major contributing factor in the twin breakdowns in December 2011.

Commenting on SMRT's move to replace Mr Ng, Mr Harish Pillay, a fellow of the Institution of Engineers Singapore, said: "We are not hearing any voice from the top on this (flooding) issue. I am not saying the head has to come out all the time to say something, but this situation calls for it."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline SMRT replaces senior exec after flooding incident. Subscribe