The Business Times | Posted: 29 March 2013
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is in the last leg of its Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), and is targeting to complete the new lifts in outstanding precincts by end-2014.
This would cap some $5 billion spent on the programme, which has benefited more than 500,000 households in 5,000 blocks since its launch in 2001.
Despite this, some 200 blocks across Singapore remain without lift access on some floors, and HDB will continue to look into new technologies to make it feasible for lift access to reach these blocks some time in the future.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan made these comments in his blog, Housing Matters, yesterday.
An HDB spokeswoman told BT that these 200 blocks are not eligible for LUP mostly either because there are not enough benefiting units to share the LUP cost, or because they come with severe site constraints which make them technically unsuitable.
These blocks are scattered islandwide and not specific to any neighbourhood, she said.
Piloting new technology to try to make them feasible for lift access at every floor will take time as HDB needs to ensure that the new technologies are suitable for use before implementing them.
"Despite HDB's best efforts, there will be a handful of blocks for which we cannot offer LUP due to the high cost," she said.
Mr Khaw, on his blog, said that when HDB first started the LUP, many blocks did not initially qualify for it due to technical constraints and high costs, but HDB "tirelessly" searched for innovative lift solutions. Its efforts resulted in about 800 more blocks included in the programme.
One of the innovations was "machine-room-less" lifts. Typically, flats have a room near the rooftop to hold the machinery needed to operate the lifts. For these "machine-room-less" lifts, however, the machines and controllers are mounted within the lift shaft. Hence, blocks previously constrained by height limits were able to qualify for LUP as they no longer required the lift machine room. Costs and construction time were also minimised, Mr Khaw said.
"Another idea was to use smaller lower-cost 'home lifts' in low-rise blocks which have fewer units to share the cost of a new lift. Though smaller, these lifts share the same features as conventional lifts, and are handicapped-friendly," he added.
"While we are completing the LUP story, we are not shutting it," said Mr Khaw. HDB is "mindful" of the 200 blocks left out of the programme and will keep seeking innovative lift solutions to try to include them.
"We may or may not achieve it, but we will not give up trying," he added.
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