Residents stranded as all three lifts in HDB block break down

Many residents had to climb the stairs to their homes. Residents were also upset that action was not taken earlier as two lifts had been out of action since that morning. Sunday night's breakdown of all three lifts at an HDB block in Woodlands left f
Sunday night's breakdown of all three lifts at an HDB block in Woodlands left frustrated residents stranded at their void deck for three hours.PHOTOS: SHIN MIN
Many residents had to climb the stairs to their homes. Residents were also upset that action was not taken earlier as two lifts had been out of action since that morning. Sunday night's breakdown of all three lifts at an HDB block in Woodlands left f
Many residents had to climb the stairs to their homes. Residents were also upset that action was not taken earlier as two lifts had been out of action since that morning. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN

33-storey block is home to many elderly folk; cause of problem is 'power supply signals'

Some residents were stranded at the bottom of their block on Sunday evening, after all three lifts broke down for about four hours.

Many had to climb the stairs back to their flats in the 33-storey Housing Board development at Block 302A, Woodlands Street 31.

Completed just last year, the Woodlands Peak project houses mostly elderly residents in 112 studio apartments. The remaining 110 units are two- and three-room flats.

Tenth-floor resident Diniesh Vaithilingam, 36, told The Straits Times: "A lot of people were very angry. Some of them wanted to break their Ramadan fast at home, but could not go up."

Mr Diniesh, who works in the IT industry, said his elderly parents who were visiting for Father's Day dinner had problems walking up.

"My mum has had hip surgery, and my dad's leg still hurts from an accident injury," he said.

"A lot of old people like them were struggling."

Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council, which manages the lifts in the estate, said the lifts stopped working due to "power supply signals".

"The lift system for the block is supported by a standby generator," a town council spokesman said.

"From our preliminary investigations, there is a signalling fault from the emergency switchboard of the generator to the lift controllers."

The town council disconnected the signal cables for the lifts to run, while HDB is helping to fix the signal fault, said the spokesman.

While nobody was hurt or trapped during the glitch, residents were upset that action was not taken earlier, as two lifts had been out of action since that morning.

The town council spokesman confirmed that the block's Essential Maintenance Service Unit (EMSU) first received feedback from residents about the lifts at 10.20am on Sunday. However, "officers were able to investigate only upon notification from the EMSU call centre after 7pm". The spokesman said the town council is "reviewing the escalation process of the call centre".

Lift service was restored around 10pm, although Chinese evening papers Shin Min Daily News and Lianhe Wanbao reported that Lift A stalled again after 11pm. The lift is now working.

On Sunday evening, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Halimah Yacob went down to speak to residents, and town council representatives brought water and chairs.

Madam Halimah said this was not the first time residents there had experienced problems with the lift, Chinese papers reported. She said she has asked the town council to adopt measures to ensure such a situation does not happen again.

A 74-year-old resident told Wanbao: "The lifts keep breaking down. I hope a more experienced contractor can take over the maintenance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Residents stranded as all three lifts in HDB block break down'. Print Edition | Subscribe