Josephine Teo (Photo: Bloomberg)

Josephine Teo: Four breakdowns per lift per year

Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Josephine Teo, responded to queries about the frequent lift breakdowns the residents of Bishan’s Natura Loft have been experiencing. Ms Teo told residents she aims to take the number of lifts breakdown to four per lift in the area per year, from the current 5.2 breakdowns per lift per year. She added that four breakdowns per lift per year would be on par with the rest of the lifts in the GRC.

On Saturday, the MP had a discussion with 150 residents of Bishan’s Natura Loft, along with the lift manufacturer’s representative and representatives from the Housing Board and the town council, held at the premium Design, Build and Sell Scheme development.

The residents asked for Sigma to fix nine problematic lifts in the building, one lift at Block 275 has even been decommissioned since February.

The residents have been grappling on this matter for six long years and demanded for solutions.

One of the residents at the forum asked Sigma to check its call logs as he had called its hotline 20 times, without any response, to complain about the matter.

Responding to the complaints, Ms Teo offered the residents her apology, saying, “Please accept my sincerest apologies for all the inconveniences caused. We are committed to fixing all the issues at Natura Loft.”

Early in January, 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.

However, she noted that Natura Loft’s developer Qingjian Realty had picked Sigma when it was still on HDB’s list of approved lift manufacturers.

Ms Teo, who is also Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, said that she is confident that her company, which belongs to the United Technologies group, will be able to fix the issue as it has ample experience and specialists.

The three 40-storey Natura Loft blocks have 5.2 breakdowns per lift per year, worse than other estates in the GRC with similar high-speed lifts.

Ms Teo stated that this was unacceptable, saying, “We want to bring this number down to four breakdowns per lift per year, which is on par with the rest of the lifts in the GRC. I believe it can be done.”

However, the MP said that the data does not suggest that the Sigma lifts need replacing right away as the breakdown rate was not of “an order of magnitude of difference” from the average lift.

She told the forum that a stricter maintenance regime and more preventative steps will be taken, which includes extra servicing and changing lift parts before the end of their cycle, saying, “This will cost us more, but it is worth it if it helps with the problem.”

She added that she is planning to set up an in-house lift supervisory team for Natura Loft, even though she admitted this will be difficult due to a shortfall of qualified lift technicians.