Competition watchdog accepts pledge by 2 suppliers to sell lift parts

The CCS said it will continue its investigations over access to essential lift spare parts for third-party lift maintenance contractors.
The CCS said it will continue its investigations over access to essential lift spare parts for third-party lift maintenance contractors.ST FILE PHOTO

Singapore's competition watchdog has accepted voluntary commitments by two lift parts suppliers to sell spare parts to third-party lift contractors on a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis".

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said in a statement yesterday that finalised versions of the commitments given by BNF Engineering and C&W Services Operations, which provide the BNF and Ulift brands of lifts, respectively, fully address concerns relating to the supply of their brands of lift spare parts.

In 2016, the CCS said it was investigating alleged claims that some lift manufacturers had refused to supply vital spare parts such as motherboards to third-party contractors for the maintenance of lifts in Housing Board estates.

It had said at the time that five companies were being investigated.

Each HDB estate typically has multiple brands of lifts installed, and town councils can choose to either appoint original lift installers to carry out maintenance services or appoint a third-party contractor - who is typically cheaper - the CCS said in yesterday's statement.

There are about 24,000 lifts in HDB estates across Singapore. Third-party contractors who wish to tender for maintenance projects that include multiple lift brands would require brand-specific lift spare parts. A lift manufacturer has an advantage when tendering for maintenance contracts as it has the parts for its own brand of lifts.

"If a lift company or distributor does not provide proprietary but essential lift spare parts to third-party lift maintenance contractors, other lift maintenance contractors may be prevented from effectively competing for contracts to maintain and service lifts of that particular brand in Singapore," said the CCS.

Following the anti-competition investigation, lift parts suppliers BNF Engineering and C&W Services Operations came up with their voluntary offers.

Public consultation was sought last November, and the commitments were amended and finalised following feedback.

Some terms and conditions also apply to the third-party contractors seeking the parts. They must be registered with the Building and Construction Authority under both the "Lift and Escalator Installation" and "Lift Contractors" workheads, and also agree not to modify the spare parts provided.

The CCS will continue its other investigations regarding access to essential lift spare parts for third-party lift maintenance contractors.

There have been a string of HDB lift incidents and breakdowns in recent years. In January, an elderly man was injured after a lift plunged three floors in Sengkang.

Late last year, there were reported incidents of erratic lift behaviour and breakdowns in HDB blocks in Choa Chu Kang and Boon Keng.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Competition watchdog accepts pledge by 2 suppliers to sell lift parts'. Print Edition | Subscribe