People's Park Complex residents plagued by hour-long waits for lifts

Several residents at People's Park Complex pointed to overcrowding as another cause of the long queues for lifts. The URA issued enforcement notices to 30 per cent of the flats in 2009, after an investigation of illegal dorms. Some believe that the i
Several residents at People's Park Complex pointed to overcrowding as another cause of the long queues for lifts. The URA issued enforcement notices to 30 per cent of the flats in 2009, after an investigation of illegal dorms. Some believe that the issue is recurring. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Several residents at People's Park Complex pointed to overcrowding as another cause of the long queues for lifts. The URA issued enforcement notices to 30 per cent of the flats in 2009, after an investigation of illegal dorms. Some believe that the i
Above: Of the three residential lifts, one has been out of operation since December. PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI, RAZOR TV

Frustrated People's Park Complex residents hope for solution to lift breakdown problem

When Mr Haryudi Darsono gets home to the People's Park Complex from school every day, all he wants is to fall into bed for a nap.

The last thing he needs - and what he often, frustratingly, gets - is a long wait for the lift to take him up to his apartment.

Said the 20-year-old private school student: "I come home during peak hours, so I am queueing for the MRT. It becomes tedious when I have to queue for the lift as well. You expect no barrier to be between you and your bed, but on some days, there is only one lift working."

Like him, frustrated residents of the 31-storey strata-titled complex sometimes wait up to an hour for the lift, with snaking queues forming on some evenings.

The cause? Frequent lift breakdowns. Far too frequent, some would say. Of the three residential lifts, one has been suspended by the Building and Construction Authority for repair works since Dec 19 last year.

The remaining two lifts, serving 25 floors, malfunction around three to five times a month, according to residents.


Residents sometimes have to wait up to an hour, with snaking queues forming on some evenings, as the two remaining lifts reportedly malfunction around three to five times a month. PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI, RAZOR TV

WORRYING TO SENIORS

I am not sure what I will do if this problem still persists when I am older. I have neighbours who are over 70 years old and wheelchair- bound. They are utterly helpless since they cannot climb the stairs.''

RESIDENT WENDY LAN, who is 53.

Mr Ong Hock Leng, 62, said: "The lifts have been breaking down for years, but the situation has really been aggravated in the past few months since one lift went out of operation."

The technical executive had written to The Straits Times Forum on March 28 about the lift breakdowns and other issues.

For elderly residents, the situation is stress-inducing.

Some find it all but impossible to climb the stairs when all three lifts are down, as has happened on at least two occasions in the last five months.

Mrs Wendy Lan, 53, who has lived at the People's Park Complex since it opened in 1973, is used to the breakdowns and has not considered moving elsewhere.

"I am not sure what I will do if this problem still persists when I am older. I have neighbours who are over 70 years old and wheelchair-bound. They are utterly helpless since they cannot climb the stairs," said the housewife in Mandarin.

The 11 residents who spoke to ST were unanimous in highlighting the frequent lift breakdowns as their most pressing concern, amid other problems such as litter and noise.

Several residents pointed to overcrowding as another cause of the long queues.

Back in 2009, during an investigation of illegal dorms by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), 30 per cent of the flats in People's Park Complex were issued enforcement notices.

Some residents believe the issue of illegally sublet homes is recurring, now that the storm of eight years ago has died down.

When ST visited the complex, several units had clues that hinted at them having more occupants than a typical family unit - advertisements pasted on doors for available beds; shoe racks with more than 20 pairs of shoes; and laundry strung out on racks in the corridors and staircase landings.

  • Complaints surfaced as far back as 2001

  • The three residential lifts at People's Park Complex have been in the headlines twice in the past five months.

    But complaints of frequent lift breakdowns and slow repairs surfaced as far back as 2001, mentioned in passing in a court case which ruled that the management corporation had no right to ask a property firm for money to pay for upgrading works.

    More recently, two occasions when all three lifts broke down - on March 7 this year and Nov 14 last year - also made the news.

    In the March episode, 15 people were trapped in one of the lifts for half an hour during the morning peak period, according to a report in Shin Min Daily News. By 1pm that day, only one lift was back in operation. By night-time, the queue of people stretched over 100m for that one lift.

    Residents of the complex have also been plagued by other problems since the residential block opened in 1973.

    The building has a history of illegal dormitories, litter issues and rogue retailers - all of which have made the headlines.

    However, for now, it is no surprise that residents yearn most for an end to the long- running lift-breakdown saga.

    Selina Xu

Over the last three years, 20 complaints have been received in relation to breaches of the occupancy cap and the unauthorised use of residential properties for short-term stays in the building, said a URA spokesman.

Enforcement action was taken on one unit, while two other units are currently under investigation.

A merry-go-round of blame appears to be taking place between the residents, the management and the lift contractor.

While residents faulted the building management for not conclusively resolving the lift saga for years, the management corporation said the timeline depended on the lift contractor.

Complex manager Wilson Goh said steps have been taken to minimise the downtime during lift breakdowns, with stand-by technicians in the building during peak hours since March. Concurrently, maintenance works have doubled from monthly to fortnightly.

It remains to be seen if the frequent lift breakdowns will be resolved thoroughly in the long term.

In a reply to queries from ST, lift contractor Schindler said the suspended lift will be back in operation by the end of this month and the company will subsequently fix the other two lifts in succession.

The Building and Construction Authority has also instructed the building owner to ensure maintenance-related issues are rectified by its lift contractor.

Mrs Lan said, with some resignation: "I really hope for a permanent solution.

"Reliable lifts are very important to all of us who have our homes here. Lifts are an essential part of life in a high-rise."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Plagued by hour-long waits for lifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe