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Town councils to set aside more money for lift maintenance

SINGAPORE — Town councils would be expected to play a bigger role and set aside more money when it comes to lift maintenance, while the lift industry should remain competitive in order to benefit residents, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday (July 11).

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told Parliament that eight main lift contractors maintain about  70 per cent of Singapore’s lifts. TODAY file photo

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told Parliament that eight main lift contractors maintain about 70 per cent of Singapore’s lifts. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Town councils would be expected to play a bigger role and set aside more money when it comes to lift maintenance, while the lift industry should remain competitive in order to benefit residents, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday (July 11).

As part of this “pro-active” role, town councils can analyse the lift fault data from the telemonitoring system and their records of residents’ feedback, to identify lifts in their estates that may need more attention. 

They should also have qualified personnel within their management teams who can supervise the contractors during the maintenance and cyclical replacement of lifts.

Noting that these measures would probably increase costs, Mr Wong said his ministry intends to require all town councils to set aside a higher proportion of their collections from the service and conservancy charges paid by residents into their sinking funds, and a portion of that would be used specifically for lift replacement.

The details of the sum to be set aside and when the requirement would kick in will be announced later to give town councils time to plan ahead, but moving on, they must “project and plan ahead and ensure sufficient savings for long-term financial sustainability”, he said.

The minister was responding to concerns posed by Members of Parliament over the safety of Singapore’s lift operations following a series of high-profile lift incidents. 

Last Friday, the c (BCA) announced a set of stricter lift maintenance regulations, to take effect from July 25. 

Mr Wong revealed that there were around 20 breakdowns per 1,000 lifts every month in 2015, and in the first half of this year. These figures were lower than the average breakdown rate of 30 per 1,000 lifts per month registered in 2013 and 2014.

While the BCA has not found any systemic trend across the lifts in the recent incidents, Mr Wong pointed out that older lifts beyond 20 years were more likely to break down because of more wear and tear.

Responding to a question from MP Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) on whether the ministry could implement a new lift upgrading programme, Mr Wong said selected old lifts were being replaced as part of the Selective Lift Replacement Programme by the Housing and Development Board. 

The ministry is also looking at helping town councils to retrofit lifts not due for replacement with key safety enhancements and features.

There are 59,000 passenger lifts in Singapore, and 24,000 of these are in public housing estates.

Calling for continued efforts to “harness competitive forces in the industry to bring about benefits to residents”, Mr Wong said that there are eight main lift contractors maintaining about 70 per cent of Singapore’s lifts, as well as smaller firms. “All these lift companies, big or small, are free to bid for the installation of lifts in our public housing estates,” he said.

On Nominated Member of Parliament Randolph Tan’s concern that the number of lifts in operation were outpacing the supply of skilled maintenance workers, Mr Wong said the authorities were in discussions with lift contractors on identifying immediate manpower needs.

Related topics

lift maintenance Town councils BCA

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