Gatis Roze: Will the elevators stop…


Gatis Roze: Will the elevators stop…

Would you take the stairs or elevator visiting your friends on the upper floors? Many people take the stairs because the look of the elevator does not inspire confidence. However, apartment owners assure that everything is ok. Everyone is used to the creaking of doors and slow speed of elevator, plus getting stuck does not happen so often.

Although serious accidents happen quite rarely, there are troubles when using elevators, and this is a daily occurrence for residents of Soviet-built apartment buildings. We remember for instance the incidence in a house on Kurzemes Avenue in Riga that had attracted the great attention, when the elevator traffic suddenly accelerated. Everything ended happily, but the woman was shocked. This should not happen again. That is the problems with elevators in Latvia have to be resolved.

The biggest headache is the fact that most of the elevators installed in the buildings of Soviet construction have served their term. Theoretically, the service life of an elevator is 25 years, but in practice elevators are used twice as long. They need to be modernized, and in many cases simply replaced, but the apartment owners do not have enough money and desire for this. In our opinion, it is impossible to find a solution without the support of the state. Moreover, the total number of elevators to be modernized or replaced throughout Latvia is at least 4000.

As we remember, on April 1, 2022, new safety and technical supervision rules for elevators and vertical lifting platforms came into force, which emphasize the safety of elevators installed before September 1, 2000. The most important are two measures: firstly, elevators have to be equipped with two-way communication device so that, if necessary, people can contact rescuers, and secondly, in the next few years, house managers must conduct thorough safety checks of their elevators and make appropriate decisions to bring the elevators in order.

But even without these checks, it is clear that maintaining the elevators in serial houses built in the Soviet era is becoming more difficult every day and requires more and more efforts from service firms. Parts are often difficult to find, and they are expensive. Information about the situation in serial houses, collected by Civinity, shows that almost for 100% of old elevators the control panels need to be replaced, as they are obsolete both morally and physically.

Ideally, it is desirable to install new elevators, because this will increase both the comfort of using and the market value of apartments in each particular house. However, for apartment owners it is very expensive. A good alternative, which is also about two times cheaper, is the modernization of the complex, that is, the replacement of components (lifting mechanism, control post, electrical wiring, visual elements of the cabin, call buttons).

The cost of a simple partial modernization seems to be not even too high – from 2000 euros, but residents are not ready to pay this amount as well. We observe this in the process of installing communication devices, which is provided for by regulatory enactments. Such equipment has already been installed on 83% of the facilities, but in a number of houses apartment owners do not accept these works, believing that they are too expensive, and there is nowhere to hurry. Installation of one communication device costs about 850 to 1500 euros.

It should be remembered that in the serial houses of the Soviet era live quite a lot of pensioners with a small income. They do not have the opportunity to quickly accumulate the amount necessary to repair the elevator. Undoubtedly, in most houses, residents save money for repairs, but these funds accumulate too slowly. At the same time, it must be recognized that problems with elevators are clear only for those residents who use them daily. Residents of the first floors often think that these problems do not apply to them.

However, according to the latest regulations, safety checks of old elevators cannot be avoided. In other words, elevators whose safety will be recognized as low will no longer be able to operate, and the rest of the identified shortcomings will have to be eliminated within 5-15 years. Three years are allotted for inspections, and it is very likely that residents of apartment buildings will be forced to quickly seek additional funds to repair these facilities. However, the impending crisis in the energy market suggests that people simply will not have extra money for such a “little thing”, like an elevator repair.

Therefore, in our opinion, it would be preferable to think about state support, namely a broad targeted program of long-term loans at low interest rates. Otherwise, some elevators will simply stop to operate.