Expediting lift modernisation is conducive to enhancing lift safety and further safeguarding safety of the public. One of the measures proposed in the Policy Address is the launch of a $2.5 billion Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme (LIMSS) over six years starting from the financial year 2019-20 to provide financial incentives and appropriate professional support to building owners in need so as to encourage them to carry out lift modernisation works, thereby enhancing the safety of aged lifts. Earlier, the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services (DEMS), Mr SIT Wing-hang, Alfred, and the Director of Building Rehabilitation of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), Mr HO Chi-wai, Daniel, visited the elderly owners of an old building in Tai Kok Tsui to explore how to help them improve their living environment and introduce the details of the scheme to them.
Currently, there are about 66 000 lifts in Hong Kong. Building owners should take primary responsibility for the proper upkeeping and maintenance of their lifts. In general, lifts are safe for operation if there are proper periodic examinations and maintenance. Modern lifts are equipped with more comprehensive safety devices than the aged ones, but just like buildings and fire safety facilities, they will be aged and worn out with time. The LIMSS precisely offers the financial incentive to building owners in need to install new specified lift safety devices or carry out complete replacement of lifts which have not been equipped with these safety devices.
Open for applications starting from the first quarter next year
As the DEMS, Mr Alfred SIT, said, the Government is very concerned about the problem of aged lifts. In this connection, after making reference to the Operation Building Bright 2.0 Scheme and the Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme, the Government plans to launch the LIMSS with a provision of $2.5 billion. It is now full steam ahead to implement the scheme, which is expected to be open for the first round of applications starting from the end of March in 2019. The URA will conduct publicity activities early next year while the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) will continue to strictly monitor lift safety as usual as a gatekeeper.
This time, the DEMS, Mr Alfred SIT, and the Director of Building Rehabilitation of the URA, Mr Daniel HO, visited the chairman, treasurer and members of an owners’ corporation (OC), two of whom are elderly owners and have lived in Kin Fook Mansion in Tai Kok Tsui for more than 40 years. Built 54 years ago, the lifts are as old as the building. The lifts will stop abruptly from time to time and require urgent repairs. According to a member of the OC, Mrs LAU, all owners would like the lifts to undergo refurbishment works, but have no idea where to start and lack the relevant knowledge. She welcomes the Government’s initiative to launch the LIMSS and hopes that the Government will flexibly handle applications for lift modernisation or replacement works by lift contractors already engaged during the transitional period before the implementation of the scheme.
Additional subsidies to eligible elderly owners
We recognise that some owners may face difficulties in carrying out modernisation works due to problems of finance, technical knowledge, organisation ability, etc. Having reviewed the situation, the Government is willing to make reasonable policy and financial commitments.
The LIMSS will comprise the following five core elements:
1. Care-based: The LIMSS will focus on providing subsidies to building owners in need, targeting at aged lifts at private residential or composite buildings with relatively low average rateable values (RV). The average maximum RV should be set at $162,000 per annum for domestic units in urban areas (including Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan Districts) and $124,000 per annum for those in the New Territories (excluding Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan districts).
2. Safety-based: Priority will be accorded to lifts with Improvement Orders issued by the EMSD and those which have not been installed with the latest safety devices.
3. Resource-based: We propose to subsidise 60% of the cost/expense of the modernisation works per lift, subject to a cap of $500,000. The owners can opt to install specified safety devices or carry out complete replacement of their lifts. Additional subsidies will be provided for elderly owner-occupiers aged 60 or above to carry out such works, subject to a cap of $50,000 per domestic unit.
4. Capacity-based: We propose to modernise about 5 000 aged lifts in phases within six years under the LIMSS having regard to the capacity of the industry without driving up the costs of such works.
5. Streamlined procedures: As the URA is now undertaking various subsidy schemes for old building rehabilitation and fire services improvement works, we will partner with the URA in delivering the LIMSS to maximise synergy and facilitate participation by the public.
Transitional arrangements prior to the invitation of applications
We are also aware that some buildings may have aged lifts that have to be replaced before the launch of the scheme. To prevent deferral of lift modernisation works by owners of eligible buildings in order to obtain subsidies, if the buildings fulfil certain criteria (i.e. the works covering specified safety devices have already commenced or tender invitation for such works has already been made as at the date when applications under the LIMSS are invited next year; the works have not been completed as at 10 October 2018 when the scheme was announced in the Policy Address; and the tendering process for procuring the works concerned complies with the requirements), we are also willing to consider such applications as well after the scheme has been launched, as we hope that the owners will have a safe and comfortable living environment.
Consultants to offer one-stop service
According to the Director of Building Rehabilitation of the URA, Mr Daniel Ho, the URA will engage consultants to provide one-stop service for building owners participating in the scheme. Services include scope assessment, cost estimation for budgeting purpose, tender document preparation, tendering through the URA’s electronic tendering (e-tendering) platform, tender evaluation, works supervision and contract management associated with lift modernisation works. Designated personnel will follow up on the whole process to get owners well prepared to undertake lift improvement works.
Apart from routine measures to prevent bid-rigging, we have also formulated a number of special measures for the scheme, including the requirement that buildings receiving subsidies must use the e-tendering platform under the URA’s “Smart Tender”, so that applicants will be free of interference when engaging contractors. I hope that the LIMSS will launch smoothly as soon as possible to give the public extra assurance and protection in their living environment.
28 October, 2018Back