Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced that lift manufacturer Sigma has been barred from tendering for new HDB projects since October 2015 for being unable to fully adhere to the timeline of lift installations for certain projects.
The housing authority said that Sigma has made about 3,500 of the 24,000 lifts in HDB estates to date. It is among one of about 20 different brands found in HDB estates, which have been installed in flats here since 2007.
The HDB added that its performance has been comparable to other brands.
HDB stated that said its decision is part of a procedure to “restrict poor performing contractors from tendering for new HDB projects.” Therefore, Sigma can focus on completing the installation of lifts and improving the performance of the installed lifts under its current contract.
It also added that where necessary, the HDB can also exercise contractual rights which may include imposition of liquidated damages and debarment from all public sector works.
Sigma is owned by American conglomerate United Technology Corporation (UTC). However, the Board noted that in the recent round of lifts installed by Sigma, there was “a higher than usual breakdown rate” observed in their first year of operation.
HDB said, “Most of these breakdowns were the result of the alignment of lift doors or lift sensors, resulting in the doors of these lifts being more sensitive to knocks and rough use.”
“This led to higher breakdowns during the initial period of usage, which typically sees heavy lift usage due to renovation and moving activities,” it said.
HDB added that Sigma has taken steps to rectify these problems and works for all the lifts are expected to be completed by the end of this month.
This issue came to light as there were quite a hike in number of accident involving lifts.
A 77-year-old man died in the early morning of 16 May 2016 after a lift accident that left him in a coma. Mr Lim Hang Chiang had reversed his motorised wheelchair out of a lift at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21 that had stopped 15 centimetres above the ground, causing him to fall backwards.
According to HDB, lift contractors are selected through open tenders based on considerations such as its past performance in supplying and installing lifts, as well as the contractor’s track record and financial capabilities.
Appointed contractors are then required to install the lifts and test them according to prevailing lift codes and regulations. After the installation, the lifts are also subject to independent checks by an Authorised Examiner, a Professional Engineer who is registered with MOM, to ensure that the lift is safe and fit for use.
HDB noted that as the performance of the Sigma lifts were usually good, it was only in the “recent round of lifts” installed that issues surfaced.
HDB warned that it takes a serious view on the performance of lift contractors, saying, “Our immediate priority is to resolve the inconvenience these faults and breakdown cases have caused residents. HDB will continue to do its utmost to ensure that Sigma takes prompt actions to resolve all problems with its lifts.”