PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES... Lift breakdowns
After the recent spate of serious lift breakdowns, the issue of lift maintenance was discussed in Parliament yesterday.
1 Why are there so many lift breakdowns lately?
The number of lift breakdowns decreased by more than 30 per cent in the last two years, according to data from the Tele-Monitoring System, which provides real-time monitoring of HDB lifts.
But any serious lift incident is one too many, said Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development.
"As our lifts get older and are subject to more wear and tear, they will face higher risks of faults," said Mr Wong.
He also acknowledged that the breakdown rate - more than 400 a month in HDB estates - must be decreased further.
2 Tighter maintenance regulations were announced by Building and Construction Authority (BCA) last week. What can town councils do to ensure lift maintenance?
In response to Jurong GRC MP Dr Tan Wu Meng's question if BCA can identify "warning signs" that would identify a possible lift breakdown, Mr Wong said: "All town councils today have access to real-time fault data of every lift in the housing estate. It is a rich database that allows town councils to do data analytics, to understand better the lifts with higher fault rates...and if needed, take corrective action." He added that data analysis could also help the town councils to improve maintenance, and realise that breakdowns might not always be due to mechanical problems.
For example, there was an incident caused by a news vendor who jammed the lift doors while they delivered the newspapers every morning, said Mr Wong.
3 Who will pay for the increased lift maintenance?
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.
MND intends to require all town councils to set aside a higher proportion of their service and conservancy collections into their sinking funds and set aside a part of the sinking fund specifically for lift replacement.
As our lifts get older and are subject to more wear and tear, they will face higher risks of faults.
- Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong
Is there enough manpower for lift maintenance?
In response to Nominated MP Associate Professor Randolph Tan's question if the number of lifts in operation have outpaced the supply of manpower needed for lift maintenance, Mr Wong said Singapore has more technicians per lift compared to countries like Japan.
BCA is working with the industry to set clearer requirements on the scope and level of training for all lift personnel. A sectoral plan will look into the manpower demand and need for better defined career development pathways to attract and retain more skilled professionals in this sector.
Will we get new lifts earlier than the recommended 28-year replacement cycle?
Macpherson SMC MP Tin Pei Ling asked if the lift replacement period could be shortened to 15 years.
In response, Mr Wong said that the replacement cycle is a guideline and not "prescriptive".
He said: "Replacement will depend on usage frequency (and) standard of maintenance over the years. If it is well-maintained, it may even go beyond 28 years...it should be on a case-by-case basis."
30 breakdowns per 1,000 lifts
20 breakdowns per 1,000 lifts
Complaints filed against...
COMMUNITY HEALTH ASSIST SCHEME
About 300 complaints were made against Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) general practitioner and dental clinics from 2013 to 2015, or about 100 a year, said Dr Lam Pin Min, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health in Parliament yesterday.
About half of the complaints were related to charges at Chas clinics, including incorrect billing and high fees, said Dr Lam, in response to Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah's question about the number and nature of complaints received from Chas cardholders against the clinics.
About 5.8 million Chas claims were made over the same period.
Dr Lam said: "We also encourage clinics to display their common charges like consultation fees prominently in their clinics, and provide itemised receipts to patients on request.
"These will make their charges more transparent to their patients and minimise misunderstanding," he said.
An average of 400 complaints over workplace discrimination were lodged with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) between 2011 and 2015, said Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck in Parliament yesterday.
Less than 10 per cent - or about 30 each year - were related to race or religion, said Mr Teo, who was responding to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari's question about the nature of workplace discrimination.
Since 2014, Tafep has warned 10 employers over such complaints.
The Manpower Ministry has also punished 12 others by curtailing their work pass privileges.