“This petition comes after residents at Blocks 411, 415 and 417 in Eunos Road 5 asked HDB to tear down the lift shafts built under the LUP, as they blocked light and made homes too dark” (Residents Petition Against LUP, Miss Sia Ling Xin).
I read with intrigue the report, “Residents Petition Against LUP” (June 18, 2010), by Miss Sia Ling Xin; particularly because it has been traditionally assumed that the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) has been considerably well-received by flat owners in respective estates since its inception in 2001. With a seventy-five percent majority amongst Singaporean households in the housing blocks, residents would be able to enjoy enhancements to their lift systems: refurbished interiors, lifts stopping at every level, and more reliable carriages.
The LUP is a well-intentioned initiative, designed to complement existing home improvement and upgrading projects offered to flats released by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Nevertheless, the LUP did come under intense scrutiny in 2006 during the General Elections, when opposition parties and politicians accused the incumbent administration of adopting carrot-and-stick strategies to garner more votes. Such concerns were somewhat addressed when the opposition-held wards of Hougang and Potong Pasir were eligible for the LUP; though some highlighted the lateness of the announcement and the overall timing of the decision.
Beyond the political implications, the LUP has seen its fair share of criticisms and complaints during the construction and eventual implementation phases. Residents across the islands have previously reflected the inconvenience brought about initially; and while noise and dust pollution are inevitable, the extensive experience HDB has with its constructors should have allowed it to control or limit such externalities. It should take into serious consideration complaints that compromise safety and security – as highlighted in the report – such as boards blocking light and ventilation, construction sites not properly secured, and tools such as scaffoldings left lying around carelessly.
Furthermore, much more can be done in terms of maintenance. Despite the seemingly positive results reflected by the recent Town Council reports, it is undeniable that the study has failed to capture some areas or instances where lifts are not checked for hygiene and cleanliness. The employed Town Council cleaners do conduct the basic daily sweeping within the interior, but are they tasked to also clean the button-boards and walls? If the threats of fines and installation of security cameras have failed to deter individuals from casually littering their cigarette butts and even urinating in the lifts, should HDB work more closely with the respective Town Councils to devise feasible alternatives?
In the long run, the LUP should not be perceived as a one-off upgrading. Constant checks and inspections must be conducted meticulously so that minor faults or defects can be looked into immediately. A more thorough engagement of ground sentiments during planning or post-implementation phases would allow HDB to render its projects more wholesome, taking into account genuine concerns and elevating the status quo.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.