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PAP town councils to set aside S$45m to boost lift safety

SINGAPORE — The 15 town councils run by the People’s Action Party (PAP) announced on Monday (Dec 5) that they will set aside S$45 million over the next five years to improve the safety and reliability of lifts in the housing estates.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — The 15 town councils run by the People’s Action Party (PAP) announced on Monday (Dec 5) that they will set aside S$45 million over the next five years to improve the safety and reliability of lifts in the housing estates. 

The money, which will be drawn from the town councils’ operating and sinking funds, will be used to develop a new monitoring system for lifts, install surveillance cameras and implement new safety protocols.

The latest initiative comes on top of the Government’s S$450 million Lift Enhancement Programme (LEP) announced in September to install safety features in public housing lifts. 

Following a string of lift accidents in housing estates, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in July implemented more stringent lift maintenance standards. A taskforce was formed for the PAP town councils to look into the new safety regulations.

Spelling out its recommendations - which have been accepted by the PAP town councils — the taskforce on Monday recommended, among other things, that all the town councils jointly develop a dashboard management system to monitor the performance of lifts and lift contractors. “This will allow town councils to benchmark the performance standards of their lifts and lift contractors,” said the taskforce, which was led by PAP town councils co-ordinating chairman Teo Ho Pin. 

The town councils will provide information on the performance of lifts and lift contractors to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) when they call tenders for contracts. 

They will also work with lift companies to incorporate the maintenance outcomes required by BCA into their lift servicing checklists. The taskforce urged the town councils to carry out additional checks and adopt preventive maintenance on five critical lift components — door mechanisms, inductor switch, brakes, over-speed governor and levelling system. 

The minimum time allocated for lift servicing — based on the number of lift landings, design of lifts and the new BCA requirements — will be increased to an average of 100 minutes, up from what industry players told TODAY is the norm of 60 minutes.  

To quicken rescue operations and deter the misuse of lifts, the taskforce recommended that surveillance cameras be installed in all the lifts. 

Under the LEP, the HDB is paying 90 per cent of the cost to upgrade about 20,000 lifts across the island, installing devices to detect and stop unintended lift car movements, communication devices in the lift, and mechanisms to detect slackening of ropes, among others.

The PAP town councils will prioritise the LEP implementation over the next decade based on the age and performance of the lifts, the taskforce said.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, BCA said there have been 10 lift incidents so far this year, and these include instances where death or injury to passengers or malfunction of safety critical components occurred.

On the taskforce’s recommendations, EM Services general manager of human resources Chew Eng Yaw noted that the 60-minute servicing time had been an industry norm since the time when lifts in flats do not stop at every level, unlike today. With the additional time spent, lift companies can do more thorough checks based on BCA’s new maintenance regime, he added. Still, Chevalier Singapore Holdings director Quah Eng Hing felt the duration should be increased further to 120 minutes, to allow sufficient time for the required work. 

The taskforce cited vandalism and misuse of lifts as common causes of lift failures. It said the PAP town councils will step up public education on the proper and safe use of lifts, as well as how to respond when trapped in lift. 

Mr Quah said that the installation of surveillance cameras would identify the culprits and deter such behaviour. Common types of misuse include the wedging of objects into door frames and the use of trolleys and prams to prevent lift doors from closing, Mr Quah said.

Meanwhile, the Workers’ Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) on Monday announced plans to refurbish its lifts at the 15-year mark, after finding in the past two years that some older lifts in the mature estates they manage have had critical parts that become obsolete earlier than expected, leading to frequent breakdowns. 

In October, AHTC — which manages about 1,700 lifts — called for a tender to replace 20 selected lifts, and will continue to do so for the next four years, at the estimated cost of S$17.5 million that will come from its sinking fund. The town council’s plans will bring forward the lift replacement schedule for selected lifts in the town, before the HDB’s recommended 28-year guideline, said AHTC chairman Pritam Singh. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KELLY NG

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