Residents dismayed as Sigma lift woes persist

The residents of the new BTO HDB flats in Block 805D, Keat Hong Close, will have to share one lift till next month at the earliest, as the other lift has been shut down for repairs. There is a delay as lift manufacturer Sigma Elevator does not have t
The residents of the new BTO HDB flats in Block 805D, Keat Hong Close, will have to share one lift till next month at the earliest, as the other lift has been shut down for repairs. There is a delay as lift manufacturer Sigma Elevator does not have the spare parts in stock.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Complaints of problems with 2 lifts in new Chua Chu Kang block; one now shut down

They had just started moving into their new Chua Chu Kang flat around the middle of last year, but it did not take long for the two lifts in Block 805D, Keat Hong Close, to start misbehaving. Since Nov 27, one of the lifts has been shut down and residents have now been told that they would have to wait till next month at the earliest for it to be fixed.

The reason for the delay is that the lift's manufacturer Sigma Elevator does not have the spare parts in stock, and because of their size and weight, need to ship the parts instead of flying them in by air.

What has also surprised some residents is how relatively new lifts could malfunction so often.

Mr Alan Peng, a 46-year-old technical manager in the chemical industry who lives on the 18th floor, said there have been multiple problems with the lifts since he moved into the 19-storey block in May last year.

"There were smaller issues like doors not being able to close, which takes one or two days to repair, to breakdowns like the latest one, which is the worst so far," he said.

Neighbour Mohamed Hassan, who moved into the block a few months later in August, said he found himself trapped in Lift A last month after it jerked while descending, before stopping in between the third and second floors. Rescue workers arrived within 20 minutes.

The facility manager, 38, said: "The regular breakdowns might have been caused by misuse by contractors, if they had, for example, jammed the doors."

Since October 2015, Sigma - a subsidiary of American company Otis Elevator Company belonging to the United Technologies group - has been banned by HDB from tendering for its new projects as the firm's lift performance has not been up to mark.

The town council said Lift A has been "experiencing multiple breakdowns" since Nov 20. Despite numerous checks and repairs, it continued to malfunction and was shut down on Nov 27 for Sigma to conduct further investigations. "Sigma Elevator has had to extend the maintenance downtime of Lift A due to the complexity of the faults. Town council officers conducted door-to-door visits on Dec 22 to explain the situation to our residents and to address any concerns that they may have."

In response to media queries yesterday, Chua Chu Kang Town Council said it has been working with Sigma to hasten the process of shipping the required lift parts here.

Sigma had initially informed the town council on Dec 15 that it needed till February to restore services to Lift A. But repairs were now expected to be completed by next month.

Since October 2015, Sigma - a subsidiary of American company Otis Elevator Company belonging to the United Technologies group - has been banned by HDB from tendering for its new projects as the firm's lift performance has not been up to mark.

Last year, HDB noticed a higher-than-usual breakdown rate in lifts installed by Sigma in their first year of operation.

An investigation found that the doors and sensors were more prone to misalignment, possibly due to knocks from rough usage because of renovation activities.

Last month, ST reported that four blocks of Boon Keng BTO flats have experienced erratic lift behaviour and at least 20 breakdowns since August last year. Sigma lifts at other public estates, such as Punggol Arcadia, Edgefield Walk, Waterway Cascadia, also broke down repeatedly and are out of service for long periods.

The Chua Chu Kang Town Council said that it has instructed Sigma to place a standby team on site 24 hours a day until Lift A resumes operation, with frequency of their checks and maintenance of Lift B to cater for the increased load also being stepped up.

Some residents remained unimpressed. A retired hawker, who wanted to be known as Mr Lim, 70, visits the block every day to take care of his grandchildren. He said: "It is no use providing a 24-hour hotline (to report breakdowns), what we want is 24-hour safety and lift service."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2017, with the headline 'Residents dismayed as Sigma lift woes persist'. Print Edition | Subscribe