Thursday, November 2, 2017

SMRT: Why did they falsify maintenance record?

Nobody asked the very simple question which I believe many engineers are asking among themselves. What is the motive of the engineering manager and crew to falsify the maintenance records?

My take is that the pitiful few hours every night they have to do their maintenance work, there was never enough time to do the needful. Risky trade-offs have to be made all the time and they must have thought something so boring and safe was indeed safe to ignore until events proved it was a huge mistake.

The solution to this problem is both simple and brutal. The price of a more reliable train system is simply to run it less and allow more time to keep it in good shape. This option would not be available like it is in London or New York where traffic can easily flow over to alternative lines. We will get there as we build more lines but that is many years away. Meanwhile the bosses at SMRT and LTA are simply taking advantage of the commuting public ignorance and shoved all the blame to the poor manager and team. Problem is the rest of the engineers and technicians manning other parts of the system aren't fooled. The cowardice of the top bosses have just created for themselves growing monster size problems to come. High time they come forward and confess their wrongs to us. They have lived lies for so long and that is why the problems remain and we are often caught by surprise.

Desmond Kuek is right there is a cultural problem at SMRT and he, his senior management, the board of directors and LTA are the cause of the problems. Unfortunately unlike in the past the working level is now shouldering all the blame.

Update: Nov 3, 6:15 am

To me this isn't just for the Bishan flooding incident but a mine sweeping move to pick out all the time bombs in the system. If it is a cultural problem, the risks are system wide. You don't need an amnesty to identify a local problem. It doesn't take a lot of time to match documentation with work done. In fact, you do not even have to wonder and figure out how to investigate this because it is so obvious! That is why the auditor interviewed for the story refused to be identified. Prof Lee Der Hong was right that amnesty was a bad idea but without being explicit given the situation the organization have driven itself into, a practical and unavoidable idea. On the other hand the staff aren't stupid either because together we stand, divided we fall. Maintenance shortfalls and shortcuts are probably pervasive.

Practically every blog post on the MRT I suggested the organization do not know or understand the system they are running. That is still true and will be for a long time.

Related: Concerns raised over SMRT’s corporate culture, system of checks

Update: Nov 3, 7:00 am

This is really putting the front to the back. I had the ST clipping first but didn't find the time to use it in a blog post until I shared the following with my siblings yesterday, which gave me the motivation to have the first post on this topic.

That clip has gone totally viral as a Whatsapp video. I had receive multiple copies. I posted to the family chat group yesterday...

Note: No engineering manager will falsify maintenance records without upstairs also winking the eye. But if something goes wrong guess who kena.

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