Among the many HDB upgrading programmes to improve quality of life in HDB estates, the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) tops the popularity chart. It is welcome by all, our seniors, our mothers with prams, our residents with marketing trolleys. Who does not want a lift which stops at the floor you live in?
Launched in 2001, the LUP has been a massive effort, costing $5 billion and involving much intricate engineering work. But it has been worthwhile. More than 500,000 households in 5,000 blocks have benefited from the LUP.
Over the years, technology has improved to the residents’ advantage. When we started off, a large number of blocks could not be offered the LUP due to technical constraints or high costs. But HDB tirelessly searched for innovative lift solutions to overcome the limitations. Some 800 additional blocks were included in the LUP as a result of these efforts.
One innovation was the “machine-room-less” lifts where the machines and controllers are mounted within the lift shaft, eliminating the need for the lift machine room. With this idea, blocks previously constrained by height limits were able to qualify for LUP. Costs and construction time were also minimised.
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.
We are now in the last leg of the LUP, based on current lift technology. Residents in the last few blocks will be polled soon. HDB targets to have the new lifts in these precincts operational by end 2014. The existing lifts will then be upgraded or shut down where they are no longer needed. While the construction industry grapples with worker shortages and other issues, HDB will strive to complete the works as scheduled.
While we are completing the LUP story, we are not shutting it. HDB is mindful that the balance of around 200 blocks is still without lift access at some floors. HDB will continue to look for new ideas and pilot new technology to try to make it feasible for lift access to reach these blocks at some stage in the future. We may or may not achieve it, but we will not give up trying.