Lift problems plague some new HDB estates

At Block 17B, Circuit Road, there have been multiple lift breakdowns.
At Block 17B, Circuit Road, there have been multiple lift breakdowns.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Ms Tin Pei Ling
Ms Tin Pei Ling

Unresponsive control buttons, jerky lift motions and clanking metallic sounds are not what people expect when they ride a lift.

But these experiences are par for the course for residents at several new HDB estates with Sigma lifts, residents told The Straits Times.

Some, such as educator Denise Tham, 28, said taking the two lifts in her block is a frightening experience. Last month, the Compassvale Mast resident and her husband were taking the lift to their 16th- storey flat when it stopped suddenly, plunged one storey, and then let them out on the wrong floor.

Her husband, who has a slipped disc problem, suffered from back pain due to the incident.

"We were traumatised, but we still had to take that same lift again because the other lift broke down the following week," said Ms Tham.



It is unacceptable to have double-digit breakdowns in one block last year.

MS TIN PEI LING, MP for MacPherson, where residents in several blocks face issues with lifts.

  • Major incidents involving Sigma lifts

  • Tah Ching Road, in October 2015.

    • Sigma-manufactured lifts.

    • Lift door closed on woman, severing her arm. A subsequent investigation determined incident was caused by "fulcrum action".

    Petir Road, in June last year.

    • Sigma-manufactured lift.

    • Lift shot up and down several floors, injuring a woman.

    Sengkang Compassvale Street, in June last year.

    • Sigma contractor.

    • Jerky lift movements and not responding to lift controls.

    MacPherson Residency, in September last year.

    • Sigma-manufactured lifts.

    • Repeated breakdowns in new BTO estates.

    Punggol Waterway Cascadia, in October last year.

    • Sigma-manufactured lifts.

    • Repeated breakdowns in new BTO blocks.

    Tampines Street 83, last month.

    • Sigma contractor.

    • Door left open and unmarked by contractor during maintenance.

    Sengkang Compassvale Mast, last month.

    • Sigma-manufactured lifts.

    • Repeated breakdowns in new BTO blocks.

Lift problems have plagued her estate since she moved into her Build-To-Order flat in December 2015, with residents having to endure weekly service outages.

The same issues have been affecting MacPherson Residency, which was completed in 2015.

Residents recounted how some residents, including the elderly, had been trapped in the lifts for a period of time, and one incident in which an amputee had to climb several floors in order to get home.

In Block 17B, Circuit Road, multiple breakdowns in September last year led to a townhall meeting between residents and Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP for MacPherson.

Ms Tin told The Straits Times: "I am very frustrated over this issue and have been watching it closely as residents' lives are directly impacted by the state of their lifts. I had also called for action several times in agency meetings and in Parliament."

"It is unacceptable to have double-digit breakdowns in one block last year," she said, without revealing the exact figure. This means that in the block which has two lifts, there have been more than 10 breakdowns per month.

HDB stipulates that in every project, there should be no more than one breakdown for every 10 lifts per month.

Likewise in Punggol Waterway Cascadia, lift breakdowns have been a constant source of frustration.

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Sun Xueling said she established a special task force to look into lift issues and requested for a technical team from Sigma to be on standby in Punggol West, and employed special cleaning methods to reduce lift door issues. Closed-circuit television cameras are also installed in lifts in blocks with high renovation activity to deter the misuse of lifts, she added.

"The actions taken have helped somewhat, but it is still not ideal, and that is why I am monitoring the lift issues on a weekly basis and constantly exploring technical solutions," she said.

The most recent episode occurred on Tuesday, when all four lifts at two blocks in Punggol broke down for about four hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'Lift problems plague some new HDB estates'. Print Edition | Subscribe