Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lift upgrading in Eunos resumes

WORKS on a lift upgrading project in Eunos that had been delayed for about 10 months restarted yesterday.

Progress was made at a meeting on Thursday when the Housing Board agreed to 10 out of 15 requests from unhappy residents.

The home owners in Blocks 411, 415 and 417 in Eunos Road 5 had protested that new lift shafts already built blocked light and ventilation to their flats.

The HDB, which stopped work in the middle of last year to attend to the grievances, agreed to modify the external lift shafts and install extra lighting and ventilation fins.

It did not agree to some other requests, such as replacing residents’ windows with new slide and casement windows, and installing full-floor tiles and false ceilings for the lift lobbies.

Most of the dissenters said they wanted the project to move on.

One of them, Block 415 resident Lee Wong Mun, 61, a retired technical adviser, said: ‘I think the lift (works) should go on, then the rest – the minor things – we can thrash out later.

‘Some residents have problems climbing up stairs, especially the older ones.’

Altogether, 14 units out of 116 in each of the three U-shaped blocks had been affected by the new lifts, and some home owners had wanted them torn down.

HDB is picking up the tab for the 10 measures it is now extending, which will come up to $780,000.

The requests were gathered through a work group formed in January, comprising some unhappy residents as well as representatives from the residents’ committee, town council and the HDB.

Another affected resident, Madam Shamshiyati Sayas, 54, an operations assistant who lives in Block 417, said she was not totally happy with the package but wanted a closure. ‘What to do? You cannot turn back the clock.’

She said the unfinished works and construction site were an eyesore and could not be left indefinitely.

But others were unhappy that not all requests were granted.

Retiree Eng Ah Hee, 63, a resident in Block 417, said he did not accept HDB’s reasons: ”Non-standard’ and ‘norms’ are not good enough.’

But the HDB said it had agreed only to items that had an impact on the primary concerns of the light, view and ventilation being blocked.

Responding, Dr Ong Seh Hong, the MP for the precinct, said he felt HDB’s solutions were reasonable.

He noted that some of the works not granted were also not part of lift upgrading programmes in other areas, and that HDB had to be prudent with public funds.

‘I think there must be a line drawn. Those that are for mitigating (the problem) have been agreed to,’ he said.

With works resuming, the entire project – which was supposed to have been completed this year – will now be completed by the second quarter of next year.

Yesterday, an HDB spokesman said: ‘This will be the final package of goodwill and mitigation measures that HDB will be able to provide to affected residents.

‘HDB cannot continue to engage in discussions to improve the package, as works have been delayed by 10 months. It is also not fair to the majority of residents who are waiting for the lift upgrading works to be completed.’

One of them is Block 417 resident Goh Tee Juan, a 59-year-old plumber living on a non-lift landing floor, who said in Mandarin, ‘Of course, I hope for the lifts to be operational. They will be more convenient.’

But he said he could empathise with the predicament of the home owners who were getting less light and air.

Source: Straits Times, 13 Mar 2010

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