Saturday 30 March 2013

More than 500,000 families have benefitted from lift upgrading

HDB not closing door on LUP for 200 blocks
No effort will be spared to bring full lift access to these blocks: Khaw
By Daryl Chin, The Straits Times, 29 Mar 2013

EVEN though its lift upgrading programme is drawing to a close, the Housing Board will continue to find ways to cover blocks that have not benefited from it, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

Mr Khaw wrote in a blog post: "While we are completing the LUP (Lift Upgrading Programme) story, we are not shutting it. HDB is mindful that the balance of around 200 blocks is still without lift access at some floors."

He said HDB would continue to look for new ideas and technology to help these residents: "We may or may not achieve it but we will not give up trying."

In response to queries from The Straits Times, an HDB spokesman said these blocks cannot get the upgrade either because too few units would benefit, thus making it hard to justify the costs, or the blocks have severe site constraints such as a lack of space for an elevator shaft.

Mr Khaw also wrote that since the programme began in 2001, it has cost the Government $5 billion, and will benefit 500,000 households in 5,000 blocks when completed late next year. The programme has been completed in 75 per cent of the blocks.

Only four more blocks, located in Pasir Ris, have yet to be polled, although HDB is targeting to have new lifts there operational by the end of 2014.

The LUP is meant to give full lift access to blocks built before 1990 that do not have lifts that stop on every floor.

At least 75 per cent of eligible residents must vote in favour of the project for it to go through.

The Government foots most of the bill, with the town council sharing the remainder with flat owners who benefit. The residents pay sums ranging from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $3,000.

Mr Khaw said the LUP has been "worthwhile", and that new technology has been incorporated to upgrade more blocks.

This includes mechanisms that do not require a lift machine on top of the blocks, as well as smaller lifts called "home lifts" that are being used in low-rise blocks with fewer units. They have worked out to be 25 per cent cheaper than the standard lifts, and have helped to keep costs low for residents. As many as 800 HDB blocks with constraints could have their lifts upgraded as a result of such efforts.

Hougang resident Chua May Fong, 63, said she hopes the new lifts would be operational sooner than the expected deadline in the middle of next year. "At my age I sometimes feel giddy climbing stairs. It's even worse when on days I have to buy groceries," said Mrs Chua, a housewife.

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