Lift tragedy: Town council to scrutinise complaint records

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Sun Xueling at the wake of Mr Lim Hang Chiang, who died on Monday after a lift accident. With them are Mr Lim's older son Eric and daughter Amerly.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Sun Xueling at the wake of Mr Lim Hang Chiang, who died on Monday after a lift accident. With them are Mr Lim's older son Eric and daughter Amerly.ST PHOTO: PANG XUE QIANG

Those lifts that had any misalignment issues will be checked again, says chairman

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council will comb its records for previous complaints about lift misalignment cases and whether any action was taken, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Zainal Sapari said yesterday.

The town council chairman also told The Straits Times that lifts with such problems would be checked again. This comes after a 77-year-old man died in hospital on Monday after he fell and hit his head in a lift accident at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, on Sunday.

Mr Lim Hang Chiang was backing out of a lift on the ground floor of his block when his mobility scooter toppled because the lift was not level with the lobby floor.

 
 

Mr Zainal said: "I am concerned after learning that other residents might have raised similar complaints earlier. I have asked the town council officers to look at the feedback records. We are still investigating at this point."

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has suspended the affected lift, Lift A, and instructed the town council to appoint an authorised examiner to inspect it.

THOROUGH INVESTIGATION

I am concerned after learning that other residents might have raised similar complaints earlier. I have asked the town council officers to look at the feedback records. We are still investigating at this point.

MR ZAINAL SAPARI, an MP for Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC and town council chairman.

Lift experts said the acceptable industry standard for lift misalignment ranges from 6mm to 10mm. "Anything more than 10mm is too much, and rare," said lift engineer Kok Peng Koon, 80, who described the case as "puzzling". The lift that Mr Lim took was about 15cm above the lobby ground when its doors opened. Mr Kok added: "There are sensors on every floor in the lift shaft to ensure that the lift car stops at the right level. Something could have happened to the condition or position of these sensors."

Engineer Lum Chong Chuen, 71, said the lift's governor rope, which prevents overspeeding, could have suffered wear and tear, affecting the lift's alignment.

When The Straits Times visited Mr Lim's block yesterday, there was a seal on the doors of Lift A and a notice of service suspension on every floor of the 12-storey block.

Several residents said both lifts there had previously shown signs of misalignment when they stopped at different floors. Retiree Chew Kwee Eng, 78, who lives on the sixth floor, started noticing the problem one year ago, and the level disparity was more pronounced on the ground floor. The wheelchair user said: "I am now so scared to use the lift. If I can, I will not leave my house."

Accounts executive Iris Heng, 40, said the problem also occurred at the neighbouring Block 245, where she lives, about two months ago.

Some residents have raised concerns that the 24-year-old lifts at Block 247 could be too old, but experts say this should not matter.

"Lifts can last more than 28 years and components can be upgraded from time to time," said Mr Kok.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP and coordinating chairman for People's Action Party town councils, said that all HDB-installed lifts in PAP towns are "regularly maintained and serviced" in accordance with Singapore and European standards.

"Safety of our residents is our priority," said Dr Teo. "We will definitely work with the authorities to determine the cause of the incident and ensure everything possible is done to avoid a recurrence."

Mr Zainal, who attended Mr Lim's wake yesterday morning, also assured his family members of a thorough investigation. "We will support them in any way," he said.

• Additional reporting by Janice Heng

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Lift tragedy: Town council to scrutinise complaint records'. Print Edition | Subscribe