The hysterics by UPFA MP Wimal Weerawansa and several others who were trapped in an elevator for a few minutes in the Parliamentary complex, became a high point in Parliament this week, even though other important House businesses should have dominated the sessions.
Next Tuesday, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will receive a report about how 12 MPs were trapped in an elevator last Thursday, and he is expected to announce the findings of the report when Parliament reconvenes on February 20.
The “incident” is still being investigated by Parliamentary authorities. OTIS Elevator Company staff which inspected the lift yesterday will continue to do so today. OTIS will provide its report on the technical aspects of all nine lifts installed in Parliament to be annexed to the principal report, Sergeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
He said they have recorded information from the officials who were on duty. The full report will be handed over to the Speaker with the certification by the company after examining the condition of the lifts.
Fernando said there was no truth in the allegation that those MPs were trapped in the lift for 25 minutes. “We have gone through the CCTV footage. There is a CCTV camera at the ground floor library area, and only four MPs had got into the lift from the ground floor and the others from the first floor. Altogether, there were 12 MPs in the lift,” the Sergeant-at-Arms told the Sunday Observer.
Despite claims by Weerawansa and other MPs that they nearly “choked to death” and had nearly run out of oxygen during their entrapment, a video emerged of the trapped MPs sharing jokes and taking selfies during their ‘ordeal’.
Fernando said officials were trying to determine why the alarm system did not work. The OTIS Company had brought some heavy materials weighing over 900 kilograms and placed them in the lift several times to check whether the alarm system was working properly. The condition of the nine lifts in Parliament were also being further checked, the Sergeant-at-Arms said.
Nos. 6 and 7 lifts out of nine are reserved for MPs when Parliament is sitting. On Thursday, it was lift No 6 that was out of order.
“These lifts are about 35 years old, but we have service staff in Parliament, and the OTIS company has also assigned two technical officers for the lifts,” Fernando said.
Despite the hysteria by the “trapped” MPs, Fernando said that the MPs had contacted parliamentary officials about five minutes after the lift got stuck, using the emergency phone. Maintenance staff had taken action within five minutes and put the issue right. “The whole drama took about 10 minutes, and not 25 minutes,” Fernando said.