SMRT deaths: Action will be taken against staff if there are human lapses

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Should human errors be found as the cause for causing the recent MRT track incident that killed two SMRT maintenance staff, actions will be taken against those found responsible.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who was speaking in Parliament about the fatal accident that happened on March 22 at Pasir Ris MRT station, said that investigations will reveal if SMRT staff did not follow safety procedures, or if the safety procedures were lacking.

He added during his ministry's budget debate today (April 12) that the Land Transport Authority will work with SMRT to do a thorough review of safety procedures.

SMRT's internal investigation has concluded and is being reviewed by independent experts, Mr Khaw said.

The external reviewers are from Keppel Corp and Transport for London - the equivalent of Singapore's Land Transport Authority - and a former executive of Hong Kong's MTR Corp, The Straits Times reported last Friday (April 8).

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the police are also conducting their own probes into the accident, Mr Khaw said, while a Coroners' Inquiry will be conducted in due course.

Responding to queries from Members of Parliament (MPs) about the reliability of the MRT network in the wake of the incident, Mr Khaw said: "Our common objective is to prevent such an accident from occurring again."

On Monday (April 11), MPs questioned the role of driverless vehicles, and asked if safety is being compromised as the MRT network expands rapidly.

"Is this a case of biting off more than we can chew?" asked Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, MP for Potong Pasir.

"Are we equipped to ensure reliability across the entire MRT system while rapidly expanding its capacity at the same time?"

The two fatalities in the incident, Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26 and Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were part of a 15-man team who were on the track to investigate a reported alarm from a condition monitoring device for signaling equipment.

Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari (left) and Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin. (Photo: Facebook)

On that fateful day, both men were undergoing on-the-job training, having joined SMRT in January this year.

The next day after the incident, SMRT revealed that the 15 technicians, including the victims, failed to notify a station signal unit that they were stepping back onto the track, The Straits Times reported.

As a result, the oncoming train that was traveling at 60km/h was not diverted to an alternate platform or told to stop. By the time the driver spotted the technical team, it was too late.

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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