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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Flat residents face difficulty maintaining social distancing in small lifts


CORONAVIRUS | Imagine being in a lift which is just five feet long and three feet wide. How is one to practice social distancing in such a small space?
That’s precisely the problem faced by residents of the Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) Taman Free School public housing scheme here, where three 11-storey blocks of flats have only one small-sized lift each.
A resident, Nur Atirah Firdaus, 19, said the lifts were only able to accommodate about five to six people at a time.
"Even then, it already seems crowded. Sometimes, if we are in a large group, we have to wait our turn to take the lift," she told Bernama.
Nur Atirah, who works as a cashier at a supermarket in George Town, said the small size of the lifts also made it difficult for hospital staff to bring down patients because they needed to place the beds in a vertical position.
"Even when there’s a death, the deceased’s body needs to be placed vertically because of the narrow space. If the lift is damaged, we have to use the stairs," said the young woman who has lived at the flats for three years.
Meanwhile, housewife S Radha, 66, who has lived there for the past 27 years, said most of the residents there were senior citizens, some who also lived on the higher levels.
She said the lifts also broke down often, especially when some occupants used them to move heavy items.
"If some are carrying huge items with them, other occupants cannot use the lift. Residents have repeatedly complained to the management about changing the lifts, but there has been no follow-up from the relevant parties," she said.
Radha's husband, T Rajendran, 72, said the management should also add at least one lift to each block to meet the needs of the residents, with the Covid-19 situation making it an even more urgent matter.
"With such small lifts, it is difficult for us to practice social distancing. Usually, if the lift is full, I refrain from entering and wait for the next trip,” said the former MBPP staff.
Meanwhile, another resident, Chan Soo Chee, 57, said the lifts previously installed there could accommodate up to eight people at a time, however, they were later replaced with smaller-sized ones.
"I do not know why the lifts were changed to a smaller size 20 years ago. Last month, the relevant parties came to take measurements, but I did not see any repair work being done after that.
“The lifts need to be changed immediately for the safety and health of residents here," he said.
- Bernama

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