For discussion
on 12 February 1998


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following supernumerary directorate post for a period of two years with effect from 1 April 1998 -

1 Chief Geotechnical Engineer
(D1) ($92,650 - $98,300)


The Director of Lands (D of Lands) needs dedicated directorate support to plan and implement maintenance works for man-made slopes on Government land falling under his management responsibility.


2. We propose to create a supernumerary post of Chief Geotechnical Engineer (CGE) (D1) to head a new Slope Maintenance (SM) Unit under the Estate Management Section of the Lands Department (Lands D) for a period of two years with effect from 1 April 1998.


3. Regular slope maintenance is important to preserving slope stability and minimising landslip risks. We estimate that there are about 60 000 man-made slopes requiring regular maintenance, of which the Government has responsibility for some 40 000. Since 1979, the maintenance responsibility for these slopes has progressively been allocated to various Government departments in line with the "owner-maintains" and the "beneficiary-maintains" principles. In 1996, the Lands D commenced a systematic study to identify the maintenance responsibility for all man-made slopes (the SIMAR Study). Pending the completion of the study in 1999, we estimate that there will ultimately be about 8 000 Government man-made slopes which will be identified as not clearly falling within the responsibility of a particular department. Some of these slopes will require upgrading as well as regular and enhanced maintenance works to ensure their stability. Following a recent review, we consider that D of Lands, as the Government's land manager, should take up the responsibility for the maintenance of these "unallocated" Government slopes with effect from 1 April 1998.

4. At present, D of Lands does not have the resources or geotechnical expertise to undertake this new responsibility. We propose to set up a SM Unit in the department from 1 April 1998 to plan, implement and manage the maintenance of the Government slopes which come under the responsibility of the Lands D. The SM Unit, to be staffed with professional and technical staff possessing geotechnical expertise, will be responsible for preparing and implementing a slope maintenance programme, managing consultants and contractors appointed to carry out the slope maintenance works, undertaking emergency inspections and arranging for and supervising the necessary repairs to prevent landslides. It will also undertake enhanced maintenance to improve stability of slopes under its jurisdiction, in conjunction with the regular maintenance works based on the standardised preventive works prescribed by the Geotechnical Engineering Office of the Civil Engineering Department.the need for detailed design, ground investigation and laboratory testing.

5. In view of the significant role of the new SM Unit and the substantial engineering expertise required, we consider that it should be led by an experienced geotechnical engineer of appropriate experience and seniority. The head of the unit will be responsible for formulating geotechnical policies and procedures to ensure the cost-effective and timely implementation of the slope maintenance programme. He will take charge of the overall management of consultants and contractors appointed to carry out the slope maintenance and repair works. He will also represent D of Lands in inter-departmental committees that deal with slope safety issues and explain the Lands D's policies for slope maintenance and repair to the public, the Provisional District Boards and the legislatureProvisional Legislative Council as necessary. Given the onerous responsibilities, the degree of independent decision-making and the level of engineering judgement and geotechnical expertise which the officer will be required to exercise, we propose to create a post of CGE (D1), to be departmentally designated as CGE/SM, to head the SM Unit. The job description of the post is at Enclosure 1. We also propose to create the post on a supernumerary basis for two years, and will review the continued need for it before the post lapses based on the actual workload of the new SM Unit and taking into account the final result of the SIMAR Study.

6. The SM Unit will require the support of 13 non-directorate staff including one Senior Geotechnical Engineer, one Geotechnical Engineer and 11 technical and supporting staff. The proposed organisation chart is at Enclosure 2. We will create the non-directorate posts through the normal Departmental Establishment Committee machinery. We will also review the staff resources of the SM Unit in 1999 with regard to the actual workload and the total number of man-made Government slopes identified as falling under the management responsibility of the D of Lands.


7. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at MID-POINT is $1,144,200. The full annual staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, is $1,931,568.

8. This proposal will also necessitate the creation of additional non-directorate posts (see paragraph 6 above) at a notional annual mid-point salary cost of $3,711,150 and a full annual staff costs of $6,038,352. We have included sufficient provision in the 1998-99 draft Estimates to meet the cost of the proposal.


9. Hong Kong's dense urban development on hillsides has resulted in the formation of a large number of cut slopes, fill slopes and retaining walls adjacent to buildings and infrastructures. Regular maintenance of slopes is needed to maintain their continued stability, irrespective of whether these slopes have attained the required safety standard. For substandard slopes, enhanced maintenance is required to improve their stability prior to implementation of the necessary upgrading works.

10. As part of the Government's overall strategy for maintenance and upgrading of man-made slopes, we commissioned a consultancy in 1994 to prepare a New Catalogue of Slopes. The New Catalogue is scheduled for completion in 1998 and is expected to contain information on about 60 000 man-made slopes including some 40 000 Government slopes and 20 000 private slopes. In the course of preparation of the New Catalogue, we are inspecting all sizeable man-made slopes, and are bringing to the attention of their owners slopes that show signs of immediate and obvious danger at the time of inspection for urgent action.

11. of maintenance responsibility for each of the man-made slopes in the New Catalogue (the SIMAR study). This task The SIMAR Study (see paragraph 3 above) is still in progress and will be completed in 1999. The number of slopes for which Government departments have maintenance responsibility is steadily increasing as the SIMAR Study progressively identifies maintenance responsibility for each Government slope and assigns it to the appropriate department.


12. Civil Service Bureau supports the grading and ranking of the proposed post having regard to the responsibilities and professional input required. The Bureau also considers it appropriate to create the post on a supernumerary basis until 2000 when D of Lands will review the long term staffing requirement of the SM Unit.


13. As we are proposing the CGE (D1) post on a supernumerary basis, we shall report its creation, if approved, to the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service in accordance with the agreed procedure.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
February 1998

Enclosure 1 to EC(97-98)78

Proposed Job Description for
Chief Geotechnical Engineer/Slope Maintenance

Overall Role and Objective

Responsible to Government Land Agent/Estate Management for the planning and implementation of programmes to maintain the sizeable government man-made slopes and retaining walls which are not allocated to any other parties for maintenance (the unallocated slopes).

Major Responsibilities


To formulate and review policies and procedures, apart from setting out the required geotechnical and engineering standards under the context, for timely maintenance of the unallocated government slopes.


To prepare detailed planning of and secure funds for the maintenance programmes, including emergency inspections and repairs, for the unallocated government slopes.


To monitor the progress of slope maintenance works under the prescribed programmes, including the appointment of the contractors and overseeing their performance, and control the relevant expenditures.


To prepare consultants' briefs and agreements and manage consultants to carry out Engineer Inspections, design and supervise slope maintenance works including prescriptive measures and preventive maintenance to ensure that cost effective and timely slope maintenance is implemented.


To establish rapport and maintain close liaison with other bureaux/ departments so as to sort out the best overall approach towards slope safety.


To represent Lands Department in presenting the policy of maintenance and repair of government slopes under its maintenance programme to the public, the Provisional District Boards, Provisional Legislative Council Panels, etc.


To be responsible for overall management of the Slope Maintenance Unit.