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Residents still climb stairs after elevator work halted

(Global Times)

10:02, November 12, 2012

An attempt by 20 homeowners to equip their seven-storey residential buildings with an elevator in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, was halted by local authorities, citing the lack of a permit.

The urban management officers in the city's Lucheng district ordered construction stopped on November 7, a week after the residents hired a contractor to knock out a staircase that serves as a fire escape and a hole was dug to the basement, the Ningbo-based newspaper Xiandaijinbao reported.

Residents in the two, 13-year-old buildings said they couldn't wait any longer. They had applied for a permit in 2009, months after the city government of Wenzhou started to add elevators to some older buildings on a trial basis.

Pei Zhen, a deputy to the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, told the Global Times that permission is needed from the firefighting, urban planning, housing and construction bureaus.

An official from the housing and urban construction commission of Wenzhou said although she understands the residents' desire for an elevator, especially the building's seniors, there is not a single regulation or policy they can follow to issue the permit.

Pei Zhen said a national standard for elevator add-ons is not likely in the near future. "In some cities that have had pilot projects, the results have not always been successful," Pei said, adding it's not feasible for authorities to finance all requests from tenants who want elevators in their building.

Yuan Yang, an official from the district's urban management bureau, said residents can continue the project after they get the permit, or they will have to restore the staircase.

Over half of the residents of the two buildings are children and elderly, and a daily climb is a hardship. One senior resident moved out of her sixth floor apartment and rented a room on the ground floor.

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