On rainy days, residents of a public housing block in Tiong Bahru get wet when they have to pass through a curtain of water as the lift doors open. This “waterfall” flows down the shafts of all four lifts during heavy downpours and it has been happening over the past 18 months.
Now, the “mystery” is finally solved: Block 10A Boon Tiong Road is connected to an adjacent block, which is a multi-storey carpark, via a concrete ramp. The ramp carries rainwater from the carpark’s roof garden to the lift lobby on the second floor of the housing block, and the water then flows onto the lift cars.
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) told TODAY that findings from its preliminary investigations based on the latest incident on Wednesday (Feb 8) showed that “water could not be discharged quickly enough through the discharge points at the roof garden, which could be choked”.
The spokesperson added that HDB was recently informed of the water seepage by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council, and they are working together on possible solutions.
To rectify the problem, the town council said that one way is to add more drainage and a cover to the ramp, to prevent rainwater from flowing to the lift lobby. “We have also tried to ensure that the drainage at the roof garden is not clogged,” the town council spokesperson said.
She also assured residents that the lifts are “safe for use” as “the lift wires are covered up and our lift company regularly checks the safety of the lifts”.
Some residents from the 40-storey block told TODAY that they do not dare take the lifts whenever they see the rainwater falling — the “raining” lifts were also seen earlier on Jan 23.
A 52-year-old kindergarten teacher, who identified herself as Mrs Nee, said: “With all that water, the electricity might trip.”
Another resident, Ms Jenny Toh, who is in her 40s, said that she has seen the lifts become “like a waterfall” whenever it rains heavily. “For the safety of so many people living here, it should be taken as a priority. What if something short-circuits? Lives are in danger. Whichever department responsible (for this) should do something immediately,” she said, adding that she had raised the issue before to the Member of Parliament of the ward, Ms Indranee Rajah.
Some residents are also worried about the slippery floors when it gets wet. Mr Sim Kian Kok, 59, a safety coordinator, said that children or older people using the lifts might slip and fall.
Mr David Chan, 41, an engineer, said: “When the ‘waterfall effect’ happens, the floors are extremely wet and slippery. The lifts will also behave erratically at times, with doors opening and closing repeatedly.
"What we are concerned is if all those electrical wiring are affected, which might explain the affected door operation."
Last year, incidents of rainwater in lifts have been reported elsewhere: In May, the lifts at Block 433A Sengkang West Way leaked during a heavy downpour and a photo went round online of a resident using an umbrella inside a lift.
Then on Christmas Eve, similar incidents occurred at HDB blocks in Toa Payoh and Tampines. In the Toa Payoh case, a video was shared on Facebook showing some residents using umbrellas in the lifts as water leaked.