The power outage that occurred at the Woodlands checkpoint, resulting in significant disruption to traffic clearances, was caused by a failure of the backup power generator.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Faishal Ibrahim explained in Parliament on Thursday, Oct. 20.
Scheduled maintenance and failure of backup power generator
On Oct. 8, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) conducted a scheduled maintenance of the power source at Woodlands Checkpoint at around 11:40pm.
This timing was chosen as it is generally an off-peak period.
The backup power generator was therefore activated in its stead. However, it failed about 40 minutes later at around 12:20am on Oct. 9.
This resulted in a power outage that disrupted checkpoint operations.
Fresh tear in air duct
According to Faishal, 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 Oct. 8, 2022.
Faishal added that 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.
It was also assessed to be in good working condition on the day of the scheduled maintenance, Oct. 8.
"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."
However, as a precautionary measure, ICA will consider if the air duct should be replaced periodically in the future, even if no tears are detected.
No data breach or loss
Faishal confirmed there was no data breach or loss during the power outage, as the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system kicked in and provided sufficient time for a proper shutdown of the servers, preventing any data breach or loss.
"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)."
For an extended power failure which UPS cannot support, ICA has standard operating procedures 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.
Top image from Singapore Border Crossers Facebook page.