BEIJING – A dozen escalators for the capital city’s Yizhuang subway line have been recalled because they have the same risk of malfunction as the one that took the life of a 13-year-old boy on July 5.
“Among the 102 escalators, more than 10 were found to have security risks,” Xu Ronggen, secretary-general of the Beijing Chamber of Elevator Commerce, told China Daily on Monday.
The maintenance company of the escalators, Beijing Chengjian Huiyou Escalator Co Ltd, confirmed the recall.
China’s top quality watchdog demanded local agencies overhaul the quality of escalators and elevators after a 13-year-old boy was killed when an ascending subway escalator suddenly reversed direction at the Beijing Zoo Station on subway line 4.
According to the Beijing bureau of quality and technical supervision, the escalator had a design defect and was not well maintained during regular checks.
“Even the bolts malfunctioned, the escalator shouldn’t reverse direction with several other safety devices, including the brakes,” said Wang Shigui, general manager of Beijing Chengjian Huiyou Escalator Co Ltd.
“Escalators and elevators have a comprehensive safety system, so they won’t injure passengers if every part works properly,” Wang said.
Latest official figures from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine show more than 5 percent of elevators and escalators in use pose safety risks.
Experts said vicious market competition has led to inadequate training and a brain drain of maintenance workers.
“Most maintenance workers are migrant people, who easily hop to other industries for higher pay. Meanwhile, businesses normally don’t invest enough to train workers,” Xu said.
Wang said his company charges at least 8,000 yuan ($1,250) for one-time maintenance of an elevator, while some charge only 3,000 yuan, but “their workers’ skills, materials and accessories are of low quality”.
Wang also said many escalators and elevators cannot meet maintenance standards because of cost.
Xu agreed that most maintenance work is equivalent to emergency repair.
“They are only fixed when they stop working, which leaves huge hidden dangers,” Xu said.
China has become the world’s largest user of elevators and escalators, maintaining 1.63 million in service, and the number is increasing by 20 percent every year, the administration said. Escalator accidents cause 30 deaths on average every year.