KUALA LUMPUR - The fatal lift accident at Block 8 of the Desa Tun Razak flats in Cheras was an incident waiting to happen, residents said.
When met on Wednesday -- just a few hours after 11-year-old Khairul Amir Azri Lani was killed in the People's Housing Project (PPR) lift -- several angry residents aired their grouses on the buildings' poor lift maintenance.
Block 8 resident Azrin Nusi, 32, alleged that the same lift that took Khairul Amir's life had almost claimed several others a week earlier.
He said several residents who took the lift from the block's fifth floor endured several terrifying seconds when it descended quickly, before crashing to the ground floor.
"It happened on the first day of Ramadan (July 10). It caused the victims to be trapped in the lift.
"Luckily, no one was injured. We had to call the Fire and Rescue Department, and the firemen took 30 minutes to free the victims."
Azrin, who lives on the 17th floor, said the lift once again encountered technical problems two days before the Khairul Amir incident.
Several other residents were trapped in the lift and, again, the residents had to seek firemen's help.
Azhar Wan Chik, 33, said technical problems occurred frequently, despite numerous complaints lodged.
"I hope this incident will open the eyes of the responsible parties so that they will ensure proper maintenance and prevent it from recurring."
The victim's uncle, Kamarul Hisyam Mat Zain, 30, and several other residents, said the block's lifts had been encountering technical problems since the initial stages after the housing scheme was opened.
"We moved here in 1998, when this PPR was opened. As far as I can remember, the lifts here have been having problems several months after we moved in."
A visit to the scene yesterday saw several Department of Occupational Safety and Health Department (DOSH) officers conducting investigations.
DOSH deputy director-general (operations) Mokhtar Musri said they were trying to find out what had caused the incident.
The New Straits Times checked several other PPR flats, and many of the residents had complaints about their lifts and other facilities.
Residents at the Sri Pahang and Kampung Kerinchi flats said "Out of Order" signs were a common sight at the lifts in their respective blocks.
Shanthi Rajadurai, 34, said the lifts in Sri Pahang flats would often break down -- as often as five or six times a week.
"My 75-year-old mother-in-law is afraid of even coming down from our flat to go for evening walks. She fears that she might have to climb up the stairs all the way up to level 12 if the lifts break down," said the mother of three.
Kampung Kerinchi flats resident Tengku Mahkota Rahim, 72, said City Hall should upgrade the lifts at all PPR flats.
"I have been living here for more than three years now, and I have experienced countless cases of faulty lifts."
Another resident, 25-year-old Karthik Muthuvairevan, said there had been many occasions when all the lifts would be out of order and this was a burden to senior citizens.
In Seremban, residents of the Tun Dr Ismail low-cost flats in Lobak expressed worries about the condition of the flats' lifts, which they claimed were prone to technical glitches.
The 47-year-old flats had recently been refurbished, but residents complained that there was still much to be desired, especially in terms of lift maintenance.
Pensioner Lim Kok Yong, 63, said the lifts frequently broke down.
"Three weeks ago, an elderly woman in her 60s got stuck in the lift for three hours before a maintenance team managed to rescue her."
In George Town, however, some residents of the Taman Pelangi flats in Gat Lebuh Macallum blamed other residents for the frequent breakdowns.
The notice displayed outside the lifts states that it can only take up to eight people, but the resident, who only wanted to be identified as Shukor, said they were frequently overloaded.
Some residents, he said, even loaded heavy things, such as motorcycles, in the lifts.
Shukor noted that the situation was worst at Block 7, where there were no closed-circuit television cameras installed to stop the practice of pushing motorcycles into the lifts.
Checks at the lifts showed that one of the lift floors was not aligned to the ground floor.
Another resident, Mohamad Fariz Adnan, 54, said many residents pushed their motorcycles into the lift daily, either early in the day or later, to avoid detection by the security guards.
In Kota Kinabalu, DOSH sources said there were about 1,200 lifts across the state but unlike other states, many of the units were in commercial complexes or office buildings.
"Problems normally happen in residential apartments where the lifts are exposed to vandalism and lack of maintenance, among other things," one source said.
"About 1,000 of the lifts are located within the state capital while the rest are spread out in several major districts. Licences issued to lifts are renewable every 15 months."