EIGHT National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers endured 30 hellish minutes stuck in an elevator at the parastatal’s headquarters in Bulawayo yesterday, three months after two people died after a lift crashed at the building.
In July, a woman and a technician who was trying to rescue her from a jammed elevator died after it plunged from the eighth floor of the building.
The NRZ suspended the use of its elevators for some time pending investigations by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
The use of the elevators later resumed, but the outcome of the investigation is yet to be made public.
“When we were trapped in the lift, I was immediately flooded by memories of the horror crash that killed my colleague some months ago. I was panicking.
“Those 30 minutes felt like a lifetime. There was dead silence in the lift as everyone was afraid of dying. Fortunately we managed to alert our colleagues outside who got us help. I think I’ll use the steps from now on,” said the worker, who preferred anonymity.
A witness said people got stuck at about 9AM and were rescued after about 30 minutes by technicians.
“These lifts are always jamming, now and then, the users here are used to it,” said the witness.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati played down the incident.
“These are everyday occurrences. It’s not a cause for panic. People were just overzealous to make it a big issue,” said Masikati.
He said the report on the investigation of the July fatal elevator crash would be released once it is ready.
Masikati could not immediately state when they resumed using the elevators after the death of two people in their building.
The technician from Schindler Lifts had been called to assist the trapped woman, who was an NRZ employee in the parastatal’s accounts department, but both met there death.
Their bodies were recovered 24 hours later.
Elevators at most high rise buildings in the country are unreliable.
In May, 14 people, mostly patients, were trapped in a Bulawayo hospital elevator that had jammed following a power failure at Lancet House, a specialist private hospital in the city centre.
The 14 sweated buckets after realising the old elevator did not have a device to raise alarm with either the property owners or the Fire Brigade as per regulations.
One of the trapped persons had to call a doctor at Lancet House on his mobile, and the Fire Brigade was alerted.Chronicle