Published: 20 October 2022
Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what caused the power outage at Woodlands Checkpoint on 9 October 2022; (b) whether there are any data breach or losses incurred; and (c) how can such power outages be prevented.
Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is known regarding the root causes of the power outage at Woodlands Checkpoint on 9 October 2022, including the reasons for the reported failure of the backup power generator measures; and (b) what measures are taken to ensure resilience of Singapore's immigration checkpoints against electrical power failures.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the cause of the failure of the backup power generator at Woodlands Checkpoint on 9 October 2022 despite having been serviced and tested the day before; and (b) what measures, including manual workarounds, does the Ministry have in place to ensure that all border checkpoints are able to continue performing their essential functions, including immigration clearance, in the event of an extended power outage.
For Parliament Sitting on or after 21 October 2022:
Mr Shawn Huang Wei Zhong: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of the recent power outage at Woodlands Checkpoint (a) whether prior maintenance of the backup power generator has been completed in accordance to technical specifications; (b) what is the assessment of the state of the backup power generator pre- and post-maintenance; (c) how long has the backup power generator been in operation and when is the expected date for full replacement; and (d) what are the follow-up actions to prevent such occurrences at Woodlands Checkpoint and other critical infrastructure.
Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development
1. Mr Speaker, Sir, may I have your permission to answer Parliamentary Questions 2, 3 and 4 in today’s order paper?
2. Mr Speaker, my response will also cover the matters raised in the questions by Mr Shawn Huang, which are scheduled for a subsequent sitting. I invite the Member to seek clarifications today if need be. If the Member feels that his questions are addressed today, it may not be necessary for him to proceed with them during the future sitting.
3. On 8 October 2022, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) was conducting a scheduled maintenance of the power source at Woodlands Checkpoint at around 11.40pm. This timing was chosen as it is typically an off-peak period at the checkpoint. As part of the maintenance, the backup power generator was activated to provide power during this period. However, at 12.20am on 9 October 2022, the backup power generator failed, resulting in a power outage that disrupted the checkpoint operations.
4. The backup power generator was maintained according to the technical specifications and assessed to be in good working condition during routine weekly and monthly checks, as well as on the day of the scheduled maintenance on 8 October 2022. A full load test on the generator had been conducted in August 2022. In the morning of 8 October 2022, it had been subjected to a 30-minute test-run and was working fine. While the backup generator has been in operation since 1999, its usage is low. It is only operated when the building power source is undergoing maintenance or during a power failure. It is scheduled for replacement in 2028, according to the specifications.
5. The cause of the failure of the backup power generator was a fresh tear in the air duct, causing hot air from the generator to be discharged into the room instead of outside the room. As the hot air re-circulated in the room, the generator engine overheated and shut down. The condition of the air duct is inspected visually and was assessed to be in good condition in the morning of 8 October 2022. As a precautionary measure, ICA will consider if the air duct should be replaced periodically in the future, or even if no tears are detected.
6. There was no data breach or loss during the power outage. The Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system had kicked in as designed and provided sufficient time for a proper shutdown of the servers, preventing any data breach or loss.
7. ICA has put in additional layers of redundancy to protect our operations from power disruptions. There are backup generators for the main power source. In addition, UPS is provided for key systems to ensure operations continuity if the backup generators fail. These systems are regularly upgraded during planned maintenance.
8. For an extended power failure which UPS cannot support, ICA has SOPs in place to ensure operations continuity. This includes activating additional manpower to assist with manual clearance, communicating and advising travellers via multiple channels to avoid non-essential travel, and diverting traffic to the other land checkpoint. These contingency plans were activated during this incident.
9. Prior to this incident, ICA had already planned to further enhance power resiliency at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints by building a secondary electrical infrastructure, in addition to the existing one. Mr Speaker, learning from this incident, ICA will be deploying additional generators as backups during future maintenance periods. We will share the lessons learnt from this incident with stakeholders of other critical infrastructure.