Property owners neglect elevator, escalator maintenance

Property owners neglect elevator, escalator maintenance
As of February this year, 428 of the 1 379 elevators and escalators installed in Zimbabwe were not working.

As of February this year, 428 of the 1 379 elevators and escalators installed in Zimbabwe were not working.

AN increasing number of property owners are not servicing or repairing elevators and escalators in their buildings, with nearly a third of the machines installed in the country falling into disrepair, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
According to a report presented recently by John Mutswatiwa, the chief inspector of factories at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), to a building maintenance meeting of the country’s real estate players, as of February this year, 428 of the 1 379 elevators and escalators installed in Zimbabwe were not working. This is a huge increase from only 170 elevators that were not working in 2012, out of 1 328 installed elevators then.
It costs more than $1 000 just to service the machines per month, and the cost varies depending on size, age and other factors. The cost is higher for repair of these machines when they have broken down, he said.
This has resulted in many property owners —most of whom are battling to contain maintenance costs — ignoring servicing of the machines.
According to the Factories and Works Act Chapter 14:08, which regulates the use of the elevators in Zimbabwe, and the Elevator and Escalator Regulations, R.G.N.No.278 of 1976 as amended, it is an offence to use an elevator without permission.
It is a condition of the permission to use an elevator that the user appoints a competent person or a company that employs such competent persons to carry out prescribed weekly and monthly inspections to ensure they are in safe working condition.
If, during the inspection of an elevator plant, any signs of weakness or failure to operate efficiently or deviation from the norm are observed, the competent person and/or the user have to inform the factory inspector in writing and stop the use of the lift.
They also have to enter the details of the deviations in a record book kept for this purpose without delay.
The user should then make the necessary repairs, with the approval of the factory inspector and in accordance with the regulations, before commissioning or reusing it.
A survey by The Financial Gazette revealed that some elevators on some high-rise buildings in Harare — including those on government buildings — have gone for decades without being repaired, forcing users to rely on stairs.
In the case of commercial buildings, this usually leads to tenants leaving and rentals to fall.
The commercial property sector has been depressed in the past few years as a result of a poorly performing economy.
A 2016 property sector report prepared by the Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe highlighted some of the challenges the sector is facing.
“Of note, there is a worrying and an ever increasing trend of property voids, rental arrears, defaults and late payments… we have witnessed the shrinking of business activity broadly and the effects can also be seen in the real estate as a sub- sector,” the report said.
“A cocktail of issues has contributed to the trend with the most affected properties being commercial office and large retail space but to a lesser extent compared to the former. Chief among the culprits contributing to the trend is the shrinking of business activity as said before especially at a time when the nation is slowly becoming a net importer of goods and services. The liquidity and cash crisis largely reflects the shrinking of business activity in the economy.
“The shrinking of the economy has thus resulted in an oversupply of offices in the CBD (central business district) as a result of downsizing, closure and re-location of companies from CBD areas to office parks and cheaper converted residential units, especially in the areas closer to the CBD.”

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