Lift woes for Punggol West residents: MP Sun Xueling urges 'tougher action' against contractor Sigma
A notice on one of the lifts at Punggol Arcadia's Block 288B informing residents of the breakdown. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)
SINGAPORE: Residents of three precincts in Punggol West have had to grapple with frequent lift breakdowns in recent months, prompting Member of Parliament for the area, Sun Xueling, to urge the Housing and Development Board (HDB) to take tougher action against the lift contractor.In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Aug 29), Ms Sun addressed residents living in Punggol Arcadia, Punggol Residences and Punggol Regalia, saying she was “crucially aware of the lift issues plaguing” the three precincts. When approached by Channel NewsAsia, Ms Sun said while the number of complaints from residents in Punggol West has halved over the past year, lift complaints have “trended back up for three precincts in the past one to two months”.When Channel NewsAsia visited Block 288B in Punggol Arcadia on Thursday, the lift on the left had an “out of order” notice pasted next to it. A “lift under servicing” sign was also visible through the lift door. Two maintenance staff were seen working inside the lift on the 16th floor. They were still at the block when this reporter left about 45 minutes later.
Maintenance staff trying to fix the lift at Block 288B in Punggol Arcadia. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)
Some residents told Channel NewsAsia the lifts take turns to break down once or twice a month. One resident said the lift had broken down earlier in the week, and had not been working for days.“We moved here three years ago, and in that time, the lift keeps breaking down about twice a month,” the resident told Channel NewsAsia. She said she had been trapped inside the lift on two occasions.
The first time, maintenance staff arrived within ten minutes and got her and her mother out. The second time she was trapped, the lift stopped in the middle of two floors for a few seconds before moving back to the ground floor.“We’re so sick of it. There was once when both lifts broke down at the same time. The lift display showed the lights were on but they just wouldn’t move,” she said.Across the road at Punggol Regalia, both the lifts at Block 273A were operating normally, but residents too complained of them breaking down once every three months or so.A couple who declined to be named said they’ve had to walk up the stairs to their 13th-storey home with their children when both lifts broke down on one or two occasions.“It’s often enough to make you feel irritated," the wife said. "We’ve been living here for about four years now and the lifts have broken down more frequently than when we were living in an older estate."She said they have complained to the town council via the OneService app.
Lifts at Block 273A in Punggol Regalia were both working but residents there also complained of frequent breakdowns. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)
Said Ms Sun in the Facebook post: "It is unacceptable that a lift technician is nowhere to be found for 3.5 hours. It is also unacceptable that right after servicing, the same lift breaks down again the next day."She said she sat down with town council on Monday to go through the lift issues and sent their data findings to HDB on Tuesday. "I have also asked for a meeting with the HDB and have put forth my recommendations," Ms Sun said.Elaborating, Ms Sun told Channel NewsAsia she had met with the lift contractor in July to express her concerns and asked them to step up rectification works.“According to them, they undertook works in August 2017,” she said. “However, the lifts still continue to act up. In some instances, they were also unresponsive to town council's calls.”Ms Sun said the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council would consider having a standby team to step in when the lift contractor is unresponsive or “has shown itself incapable of rectifying faults”.“I have asked that the HDB step in to consider tougher action against the lift contractor. They need to hold the contractor accountable for the current unacceptable state of affairs and for the lift contractor to provide concrete steps to rectify them,” she said.Responding to questions from Channel NewsAsia, HDB said the lifts in the three precincts are between five and six years old and are maintained by the town council. HDB would typically have oversight of issues if they fall within the one-year defect liability period (DLP).But it said it would work with the town council and the lift contractor, Sigma, to “improve the performance of these lifts”. General manager of Sigma Singapore, Adreana Goh, told Channel NewsAsia that Sigma was "committed to improving the operation of our lifts" and that it was working closely with HDB and town councils to "monitor and enhance the equipment performance"."To ensure continuous improvement in the performance of our equipment, we have increased the frequency of lift maintenance and enhancement works at various locations," she said. "These services require the lifts to be taken out of service temporarily, which may have resulted in some inconvenience to the residents."Sigma Lifts has been barred from tendering for new HDB projects since 2015. Earlier this year, HDB said the decision was made after the manufacturer failed to adhere to lift installation timelines for some projects.In January, HDB had also noted that in lifts installed “recently”, the company had “a higher than usual breakdown rate” in the first year of operation.Sigma has installed about 3,500 of approximately 24,000 lifts in HDB estates.