Resident says authorities, not contractors, should be held accountable for faulty lifts in new BTO

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A resident of Waterway Cascadia, a new Built-to-Order (BTO) in Punggol Way had earlier alerted Channel NewsAsia (CNA) that several residents were frustrated by faulty lifts installed in their block of flats.

CNA reported the news and said that the malfunction was caused by renovation debris from errant contractors.

The upset resident Jeremy Phua confronted the news outlet in its Facebook post of the report and said:

“Hi all, after going through this segment again I realised how skewed this article has become. I am the one in the video, I am the one that reported this news. I told the reporter that our lifts are constantly breaking down and this started even before renovation works started. I had called EMS, called Town Council, we have emailed the MP as well but all we got for the past 6 months was that they know about the problem, they are working on it. Nothing is transparent. And also why 6 months so long and nothing is being done? How can you just blame contractors just because you see items along the floor, are they even blocking the lifts? HDB sent a notice saying the fault lies with contractors misusing the lift, and they are sending men to constantly check on it, till now, I see no HDB personnel, no CCTV installed so I don’t know how they are monitoring the situation. This isn’t supposed to be even blaming the contractors for our lift issues. Once again, this shows how the authorities have used the media to tell a different story.”

The residents of the BTO at Punggol Way received the keys to their flats progressively from the beginning of the year. The block of flats is only 50 percent occupied as of date. Mr Phua moved into his flat over a month ago and claims that he had been calling his town council about the malfunctioning lift every other day. He claims not just his block, but other lifts in the surrounding blocks also have similar problems. EMS maintains the lifts in the estate.
Mr Phua lives on the 18th floor and the malfunctioning lifts have greatly inconvenienced him.

He was told by the Residents’ Committee members that as long as the lifts are working, the defects are only minor. The lifts in the blocks are of the Sigma brand.

A Facebook user Joel Tan who responded to Mr Phua’s confirmation that the lifts were of the Sigma brand said that the the BTO in Tampines have similar problems. He said:

“Same issue here with a newly completed BTO project in Tampines using Sigma lifts. My family was the first few to receive the keys in June, and on the very first day when we visited, 1 out of 2 lifts in our block was labelled “out of service”. 4 months since and there is a recurring problems exactly like what Jeremy had mentioned. This is what I found out from their website: Sigma is a Korean company, with production facilities primarily in Dalian and Suzhou. I have noticed that most new HDB flats and public buildings like CCs are using Sigma’s lifts despite their obvious inferior quality. So would CNA care to do an investigation into that?”

Jeremy Phua said: “Would really be good to see how the contract was awarded? is it based on the cheapest? If not, what is the criteria, why did other companies like Hitachi, OTIS, Mitsubishi not get it? Some residents asked – being a premium BTO estate, why are we getting such low quality lifts? We’re not even asking for aircon or music in the lifts, we just want the lift to perform the basics, to go up and down with minimal faults!”

He further commented at about 10pm on 12 Oct that the lift in his block broke down again.

The following is the text of the original message Mr Phua sent to several news agencies earlier to highlight the problem of the malfunctioning lifts in the new premium BTO flats.


Dear Media friends,

I am writing to you hoping that you can help to make known to all the frustrations and agony that the residents of my housing estate have been going through ever since we have moved in. I am hoping you can be the “voice of the people”.

My name is Jeremy, I am a resident of Waterway Cascadia, a new BTO located at Punggol Way. The residents of this project started receiving their keys in the beginning of the year, home renovations are ongoing and I’d say there is less than 50% occupancy rate at the moment. I received my keys in May (some of the residents earlier) and after my renovations are done, moved into my new home in September. It has been just over a month or so, but I have been calling Town Council, EMS almost every other day because of the lift issues my block is having (not only my block, but the other blocks in the estate are also experiencing lift issues).

The lifts will often get stuck at various levels and stop working. And more often than not, they will stop at a level and the doors cannot close fully – residents have to push both sides of the door to get it closed so that it continues moving. This happens at every level the lift stops at. This happens so frequently and our estate is not even fully occupied yet. Our block is 18 storey high, each level having around 10 units and served by 2 lifts – so you can imagine how things will be like during rush hours when we have full occupancy.

Being a new estate, we have no Residents’ Committee (RC) formed. We can only call the Town Council, email our MP (Ms Sun Xueling) for help. However, nothing done has solved the root of the problem, which is the quality of the lifts we are getting for this supposed premium estate of ours (We were paying like $100K or more for the same level housing size unit elsewhere at that point in time).

I’ve taken pictures, videos, sent my fair share of emails but the only response I got from the authorities was to tell the contractors not to damage the lift by stuffing objects to prevent the lift from closing – this is just shifting the blame to contractors, I am not even the least interested to find out who the culprit is, I am just a normal resident wanting my lifts to work properly, the most basic essential which the authorities cannot even provide, yet we are paying monthly conservancy fees, even before we started moving in! If I have to call them everyday and them sending down technicians to look at the issues everyday, some days more than 1 time, isn’t it a waste of money and resources – why can’t they just put in place a better lift in the beginning?

The recent spate of lift accidents is definitely of concern and yet the authorities are not making substantial effort in ensuring we have proper working lifts.

I would be happy to talk to you more and even walk you through our estate to show you the bad state of lifts we are experiencing day in day out.