Sengkang lift problems: Checks and shut-downs under way

The Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council shut down lift C - the one in question - on Sunday to do a more thorough check yesterday. During the check, the lift jerked and stopped for a while before moving again.
The Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council shut down lift C - the one in question - on Sunday to do a more thorough check yesterday. During the check, the lift jerked and stopped for a while before moving again.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Residents in area speak of jerky movements and lifts not responding properly to controls

A malfunctioning lift in Sengkang has been shut down for safety checks in the wake of a series of injuries from lift accidents this year.

The decision was made after residents reported problems with the lift in Block 299A, Compassvale Street, over the weekend.

Last Friday, a resident of the block, assistant safety manager Tan Joo Jin, 45, told The Straits Times the lift had stopped randomly between floors and dropped suddenly.

Another resident had problems with the same lift on Sunday afternoon, Channel NewsAsia reported.

She was heading to her apartment on the ninth floor when the lift jerked and stopped midway for a few seconds before opening at the fifth floor instead.

When asked, the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council said its lift engineer and contractor tested the lift last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

MP Zainal Sapari, chairman of the town council, said no issues were detected after last Friday's report, and they suspected that the problem might be intermittent.

The town council added that its lift engineer and contractor did not experience a jerk and midway stop.

But the town council shut down lift C - the one in question - on Sunday to do a more thorough check yesterday. During the check, the lift jerked and stopped for a while before moving again.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has since suspended operation of lift C for further investigations.

The town council has to appoint an independent authorised examiner to inspect the lift, recommend rectification works and submit the findings to BCA, the authority said. BCA will also conduct an independent investigation on the lift.

"The investigation and required rectification works must be carried out to the satisfaction of BCA, before the lift will be allowed to resume operations," said a spokesman.

SLOW WAIT

Sometimes, in the morning, the lift doesn't stop at all on our floor. The waiting time can be more than 10 minutes.

MR HERMAN OMAR, who lives on the fourth floor of Block 299A.

The town council said its lift engineer and the lift contractor, Sigma, are now "troubleshooting and trying to trace the fault, and will arrange for rectification work once they confirm which faulty parts need replacement".

"In addition, we have arranged to check all the lifts with similar feedback as a precautionary measure," the town council said.

A Sigma spokesman said: "We are aware of this incident and are working to gather more information as quickly as possible."

When The Straits Times visited Block 299A yesterday, some residents said they had experienced jerking and other problems with at least one of three lifts serving their 17-storey block.

Mr Herman Omar, 36, who lives on the fourth floor, said his housing agent was unable to activate any of the buttons in another lift in the block about two months ago.

The Institute of Technical Education lecturer added: "Sometimes, in the morning, the lift doesn't stop at all on our floor. The waiting time can be more than 10 minutes."

Close to 6pm on Sunday, second-floor resident Almazan Edward Siguerra, 46, said the affected lift stopped at his floor although the digital display above the lift indicated it was under maintenance.

A notice on the ground floor said: "Encountered lift drop issue at 4.10pm!! Do not use lift C."

"The problem is, they just put (the notice) on the ground floor. They should put it on all the floors," said the senior field service engineer.

Resident David Deng, 34, who is self-employed, said he notified the town council when he experienced a malfunction around four weeks ago.

He was taking the lift to the seventh floor in the evening when it stopped midway past the fifth floor, and dropped a floor downwards. It later opened on the fourth floor. "That gave me the scare of my life," he said.

Some residents in nearby Block 298B have had issues with their lifts, too.

Mr Satish Shivanathuni, 40, a senior systems analyst, said there was an incident when people on the 17th floor could not get out of the lift. They had to exit on other floors instead. A lift in his block has undergone maintenance twice over the past week or so.

BCA said there have been 12 lift incidents that led to injuries since 2013. Five lift incidents were reported in the past eight months.

Last Tuesday , part-time cleaner Yeo Choon Tee hurt her spine when taking a lift from the ninth floor of Block 150, Petir Road, to the ground floor. The Sigma- made lift lurched up to the 11th floor, plunged to the third, then shot up to the 12th.

When The Straits Times visited yesterday, the lift, which serves one side of the block, was under maintenance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Checks and shut-downs under way'. Print Edition | Subscribe