Fresh problems for Sigma lifts

Residents in Compassvale Mast in Sengkang (left) and MacPherson Residency, which saw regular lift breakdowns over the past year, say the situation has improved. But new cases of malfunctioning Sigma lifts have emerged in HDB estates in Bukit Batok an
Residents in Compassvale Mast in Sengkang (above) and MacPherson Residency, which saw regular lift breakdowns over the past year, say the situation has improved. But new cases of malfunctioning Sigma lifts have emerged in HDB estates in Bukit Batok and Bishan in recent weeks.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

A Jan 31 deadline for beleaguered lift company Sigma Elevator to fix its faulty lifts has come and gone.

But problems continue to mount for the operator, which had been barred from tendering for new Housing Board contracts from October 2015. Lifts installed by Sigma have, over the past two years, been breaking down more often than usual in their early stages of operation, the HDB had said previously.

In recent weeks, new cases of malfunctioning Sigma lifts have emerged in HDB estates in Bukit Batok and Bishan.

This is even as old cases are still being resolved. Residents and Members of Parliament at Compassvale Mast in Sengkang and MacPherson Residency, which saw regular lift breakdowns over the past year, told The Straits Times that the situation has improved.

Still, said Mr Zainal Sapari, chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council that oversees Compassvale Mast: "We are still getting feedback from the residents on the lift breakdowns and working with the lift company to address these issues."

They were supposed to have been resolved as of three days ago.

The HDB had set Jan 31 as the deadline for Sigma to complete its works on the lifts. The Straits Times understands that this refers to rectification works for door operating devices as well as overdue installation of lifts.

Both the HDB and Sigma did not comment by press time on whether the lift manufacturer met the deadline.

There are some 3,500 Sigma-made lifts used in public housing here.

One resident at Skyline in Bukit Batok, a new estate, said he was inside a lift in Block 296B on Jan 1 when it stopped suddenly, with the doors opening on the wrong floor. He was unhurt.

Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai said he has contacted the resident and has asked the HDB to investigate, as the lifts are still within the one-year defects liability period (DLP). The HDB said it is investigating the case.

Mr Murali said: "I am concerned about what happened to the resident and am relieved he is not injured."

The MP said he trusts that the town council will have "a rigorous process in place" before it takes over maintenance of the lifts at the end of the DLP. "Right now, we need to investigate what happened," he added.

All four lifts in the block are back in operation.

In another estate, Natura Loft in Bishan, the Sigma lifts also broke down over the Chinese New Year weekend.

Resident Jonathan Ho, 37, a magazine editor, said: "I have grown used to the lift problems - I will enter the lift first to see if something goes wrong before I allow my kids to enter. It is an accident waiting to happen."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Fresh problems for Sigma lifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe