About 200 blocks of Housing Board flats are not suited to be given lifts on every floor, a situation that has led the Ministry of National Development to look into two unconventional lift systems that could solve the problem.
One is a pneumatic vacuum lift, which relies on air suction to move a lift car up and down, which went on trial at a commercial building in Toa Payoh last month.
The other is a vertical platform lift, a belt-driven system often used in private homes. It will be tested at a public carpark later this year.
Yesterday, Parliament was told the ministry will decide in six months to a year whether to put the two systems on trial in HDB blocks.
In announcing the possibility, Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said a longer trial would give a better assessment of the reliability of the new lifts.
Two MPs, Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) and Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), offered HDB blocks in their divisions for the trials.
Smiling, Mr Lee took note of their offer and said: "Managing the last 2 per cent (of affected blocks) will be very challenging, very costly and technically difficult. But we will see how best we can continue to find solutions."
He also said residents who urgently need direct lift access because they are in poor health or are infirm can ask HDB for help in moving elsewhere or financing a new HDB home.
Mr Lee gave these assurances when replying to MPs' questions on the Lift Upgrading Programme and what the ministry was doing for those living in blocks that could not qualify for it.
These blocks either have too few units to share the costs, or have severe site constraints.
Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) asked why the two lift systems were not tested in residential blocks.
Mr Lee said the commercial building and public carpark were picked because they were used more regularly, so data could be collected more quickly.
Get MyPaper for more stories.