Stuck in a lift for two long hours

2014-03-06 00:00

NINE people had a traumatic start to their day yesterday when they were trapped in a lift for more than two hours.

The lift got stuck on the third floor of Fedsure House in Church Street with seven employees of the KwaZulu-Natal Public Works Department and two from attorneys Mason Incorporated.

Kone Elevators had to send a technician to respond to the emergency all the way from Durban.

Afterwards, people in the building said they were avoiding using the lift, for fear of it getting stuck, and advised others not to either.

Before leaving the building, a staff member for Kone Elevators who did not want to be named, would only say that the lift got stuck because of overloading.

But those who had been trapped said the lift could take up to 13 people and only nine people were in it when it became stuck, so overloading could not have been the real cause.

Nishana Naidoo, a collections paralegal for Mason Incorporated, who was stuck in the lift, said, “All I could think of was my six-month-old daughter. If the worst happened to me what would my baby do without me?”

She said they got into the elevator at about 7.20 am, looking forward to another day at work. When they were about to reach the third floor, it appeared there was a power surge and the lift stopped.

“We were so scared … It just went down. There was light in the elevator but none of the buttons were functioning,” she said.

Naidoo said some people in the lift were panicking because they suffered from asthma. “Another lady phoned her son to tell him about her ordeal; we were all thinking about our loved ones,” she said.

Naidoo said there were two gentlemen who kept them calm during this time.

Office manager at Mason Incorporated, Magda Timms said she was busy running around trying to get help for her staff members who were stuck. “What stood out for me was the unity displayed by people who worked in the building but who had not necessarily interacted with each other,” she said.

Timms said they tried to get water into the lift to keep the people calm.

KZN Department of Public Works spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said it was regrettable that the persons trapped in the stuck elevator had to endure almost two hours while waiting for the emergency personnel from the service provider to come and repair the stuck elevator.

“We have sharply raised our disquiet as tenants [with many staff members in the building] with the landlord as well as with the elevator company concerned, particularly with the turnaround time in such cases of emergency,” said Baloyi.

He said they found the delay in responding to such an emergency unacceptable.

“We shall also be probing allegations that the person who was sent to attend to the stuck lift had driven all the way from Durban,” said Baloyi.

He said the staffers concerned had to be referred to their employee health and wellness section for counselling following their traumatic ordeal.

Attempts to get hold of Fedsure House and Kone Elevators for official comments were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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