Parliament: Town councils to set aside more funds for lift replacements

BCA engineers perform safety checks on a lift's main rope to ensure that suspension ropes do not break and move together with the wheel of the lift machine.
BCA engineers perform safety checks on a lift's main rope to ensure that suspension ropes do not break and move together with the wheel of the lift machine.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - All town councils will need to set aside a higher proportion of their monthly service and conservancy charges into their sinking funds, specifically for lift replacements, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday.

This comes after a spate of lift breakdowns and accidents in Housing Board blocks, and is part of measures put in place by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to enhance the regulatory and safety regime for lifts.

Mr Wong, responding to MPs questions on lift breakdowns, said a stepped up lift maintenance and replacement programme will cost more.

He said town councils will have to plan ahead and ensure they have enough funds to sustain rigorous checks over time, replace worn out lift parts, and replace older lifts, among other things.

This is why the BCA is requiring town councils to ring-fence a portion of their sinking funds for lift replacements, said Mr Wong.

He added: "Besides regulatory action by BCA, it is also important for Town Councils, as lift owners, to take responsibility and carry out pro-active maintenance and cyclical replacement of lifts."

Mr Wong did not elaborate on how much the town councils will be required to set aside, or when the requirement will kick in.

He first announced that his ministry was considering the move in Parliament in March.

Town councils, that manage HDB estates, are required by law to set aside a part of the service and conservancy charges they collect from residents and grants-in-aid they receive from the Government to pay for cyclical works.

These works include the replacement of lifts and lift parts.

Citing real-time data collected from a system that monitors lifts in public flats, Mr Wong said there was an average of 20 breakdowns each month last year for every 1,000 lifts.

This is lower than the average breakdown rate of 30 per 1,000 lifts each month in 2014 and 2013.

He added that he was citing the figures as there is a perception of a sudden surge in lift breakdowns in recent months, though statistics show that this is not the case.