SMRT, director, and engineer charged for March deaths

Dec 01, 2016 03.00PM |

by Wan Ting Koh

WHEN the train captain and assistant engineer were fired, netizens complained that they were merely the fall guys for SMRT’s top management.

Well, now one of SMRT’s top men is being charged – along with the sacked engineer and the train operator itself.

Eight months have passed since two SMRT employees were killed in an accident on the Pasir Ris train tracks in March this year, and finally, some action is being taken in the courts.

Rail operator SMRT and two of its employees were charged this morning over the accident. The two employees are SMRT’s director of control operations Teo Wee Kiat; and Lim Say Heng, the engineer who was also the officer-in-charge of the work team that went onto the tracks.

Teo and his employer, SMRT Trains, are accused of failing to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of the workers. Lim was charged with causing death by a negligent act.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the train operator is expected to plead guilty to contravening the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

The court alleged in its charge sheet that SMRT failed to ensure that its employees complied with approved operating procedures when accessing the track between Tampines and Pasir Ris MRT stations. It also did not ensure that the procedures practised by its employees to access the track passed safety audits, were documented and disseminated.

These actions allegedly led to the deaths of Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, who were part of a 15-member team that was investigating a possible fault involving a signalling device on the tracks on March 22. The two trainees were killed by a train that was entering Pasir Ris Station.

In April, an SMRT-appointed review panel, which reviewed SMRT’s findings, concluded that a critical safety measure was not applied that day, which “directly” caused the accident. Watchmen who were supposed to watch for approaching trains were also not deployed that day. 

After an internal disciplinary inquiry in September, SMRT dismissed two staff – train captain Rahmat Mohd, 49, who was driving the train that hit the men, and an assistant engineer. According to CNA, Lim was sacked by SMRT in September over the incident.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers said in a statement released today that investigations were ongoing to determine if other individuals are liable for workplace safety lapses in connection with the incident.

The National Transport Workers’ Union also released a statement saying that it would ensure Lim was fairly represented. The Union’s Executive Secretary Melvin Yong said: “Whilst we cannot comment on any ongoing legal proceedings, the union maintains that it is important to allow due process to take its course and all facts to be revealed before drawing any conclusions.”

The cases will be heard in a pre-trial conference on Dec 30.

If convicted, SMRT Trains faces a fine of up to $500,000 while Lim faces a jail term of up to two years and a fine. His colleague, Teo, faces a fine of up to $200,000 and/or a jail term of up to two years.


Read the other articles on the SMRT incident here:

  1. SMRT double death tragedy: Driver sacked – but why?
  2. Fatal train accident: MOM has asked SMRT about dismissal of two workers


Featured image from TMG file.

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