Town councils to set aside more funds for lift upkeep

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

This comes as BCA beefs up maintenance standards for lifts after a spate of accidents

Town councils will have to set aside more funds to ensure that they have enough to provide for the regular upkeep of lifts in blocks under their charge.

This comes as the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) steps up requirements for lift maintenance after a spate of accidents.

A more comprehensive programme to maintain and replace lifts will inevitably cost more, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament yesterday.

To fund this, town councils will be required to put a higher proportion of their monthly service and conservancy charges (S&CC) into their sinking funds.

A portion of these funds will then have to be set aside specifically for lift replacements.

"With more rigorous checks over time, town councils are likely to draw more on their sinking funds to replace worn-out lift parts or to carry out a complete replacement of older lifts," said Mr Wong, responding to questions from seven MPs on the subject.

"Town councils must project and plan ahead, and ensure sufficient savings for long-term financial sustainability," he added.

But he did not give the proportion of S&CC - which town councils collect from residents each month - that must go into the sinking funds.

Town councils manage Housing Board estates and must set aside a part of the S&CC they collect from residents and the grants-in-aid they receive from the Government to pay for cyclical works. They draw on sinking funds to pay for long-term maintenance needs, such as the replacement of lifts and water pumps.

From July 25, the BCA will implement tighter maintenance standards for lifts. These require, for instance, that brakes and lift parts be checked to ensure they are not contaminated by oil or grease.

Lift contractors that fail to comply with the new rules may be fined.

Singapore has 59,000 passenger lifts, of which about 24,000 are in HDB estates.

The more stringent checks come amid recent reports of lift accidents and breakdowns. Last October, an 86-year-old woman's lower left arm was severed in a lift accident.

But figures provided by Mr Wong yesterday show the rate of lift breakdowns declined last year compared with the previous two years.

Real-time data that monitors lifts in HDB blocks shows about 20 breakdowns for every 1,000 lifts each month last year, compared with 30 breakdowns in 2014 and 2013.

While the breakdown rate should be lowered further, Mr Wong said he was citing the figures as there is a current perception of a "sudden surge" in lift breakdowns.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Town councils to set aside more funds for lift upkeep'. Print Edition | Subscribe