The lifts in the University Corner building go up but don’t always come back down, leaving users to make a hike of up to 18 floors up the stairs.

The three lifts in the 40-year-old building suffer from a range of problems. They often get stuck on one of the top floors, they do not stop at selected floors, the doors refuse to close, and their speeds vary  between high and super slow in one flight.

One of the building’s security guards, who did not want to be named, says he often has to run up to the 10th floor to “fetch” a lift for people waiting on basement level.

“People complain every day. From the basement, people are climbing 10 floors or walking down because they waited too long for a lift.”

He says the lifts are serviced every morning but as soon as the maintenance company leaves the problems start up.
“The company says it’s the [dust from the]  construction that is causing the problems.”

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg centre for software engineering on the 12th floor, says:  “My feeling is that the lifts are very old, in fact too old and beyond their useful life. It makes working in the building difficult. All the construction has caused tremendous wear and tear on the lifts.
“There’s talk about changing them. The guys who maintain the lifts do a sterling job in keeping them going, they’re old,” says Dwolatzky.
Construction work on the Wits Arts Museum (WAM) on the ground floor of  University Corner is nearing completion and will be the biggest university gallery in South Africa. WAM takes up three levels and will have “its own goods lift for the delivery and movement of the art collection to and between the various levels of the museum,” says Emmanuel Prinsloo, Wits director of campus development and planning (CDP).

“The lifts located in the foyer of University Corner will be replaced as an independent contract in the next financial year. CDP has been instructed to facilitate the issuing of a tender to the market in October 2011. Regrettably the importation of lifts is a long-lead item, with delivery periods between 14 and 18 weeks from date of order,”  Prinsloo says.

Former Witsie and architect Tseko Mashifane says: “Lifts are expensive and owners are usually reluctant to fix them hence the exhaustive repairs. If it is a public building, the state can issue summons against the owners only if it can be proven that it is danger to the public. There are a lot of grey areas in this matter.”