LC Paper No. CB(1)1805/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works
Minutes of meeting
held on Thursday, 13 May 1999, at 4:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members present :
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Members absent :
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Public officers attending :
For items IV & V
Mr CHAN Wing-sang, JP
Deputy Secretary for Works
Mr KWONG Hing-ip
Chief Assistant Secretary for Works
For item IV
Mr LAI Fuk-kan
Assistant Director/Project and Development
Drainage Services Department
Mr SHIU Wing-yu
Chief Engineer/Project Management
Drainage Services Department
For item V
Mr LEUNG Mang-chiu
Assistant Director of Water Supplies (New Works)
Water Supplies Department
Mr NG Mang-tung, Bobby
Chief Engineer (Project Management)
Water Supplies Department
For item VI
Mr Stephen FISHER
Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment
and Lands (Urban Renewal)
Mr Esmond LEE
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Lands)
Dr Y L CHOI
Director of Buildings
Mr Philip LAU
Assistant Director of Buildings (Specialist)
Mr I J MacNAUGHTON
Assistant Director of Lands (Estate Management)
Mr M F NG
Principal Land Executive
(Village Improvement and Control)
Attendance by invitation :
The Hong Kong Institute of Architects
Mr Barry WILL
Mr Anthony NG
Chairman of Board of Local Affairs
The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
Ir WONG Chi-ming
Representative of Structural Discipline
Ir SIU Man-po
Chairman of Building Division
The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
Mr Samson WONG
Mr David CHAN
Chairman of Membership Committee
Mr C K LAU
Chairman of Technical Advisory Panel
Mr Barnabas CHUNG
Chairman of Education Committee
Clerk in attendance :
Miss Odelia LEUNG, Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
Mrs Mary TANG, Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2
I Confirmation of minutes of meeting
(LC Paper Nos. CB(1)1207 and 1231/98-99)
The minutes of joint meetings with Environmental Affairs Panel
on 5 February 1999 and with Housing Panel on 30 March 1999 were confirmed.
II Date of next meeting and items for discussion
2. Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel
meeting scheduled for 10 June 1999 -
- Tsuen Wan Bay Further Reclamation;
- Slope safety; and
- Policy on mitigation of traffic noise from roads (the subject was
referred by the Public Works Subcommittee)
III Information papers issued since last meeting
3. Members noted the following information papers which were issued
since the last meeting -
|LC Paper No. CB(1)1256/98-99|| -
||Conversion of three supernumerary posts to permanent posts in the Geotechnical Engineering Office of the Civil Engineering Department; and
|LC Paper No. CB(1)1308/98-99
||Comments from the Urban Watch on the Town Planning Bill.
IV West Kowloon Drainage Improvement stages 2 and 3
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1296/98-99(02))
4. With the aid of a computer, the Chief Engineer/Project Management,
Drainage Services Department (CE/DSD) explained the Administration's proposed
strategy to solve the flooding problem in West Kowloon and the development
of an implementation programme as set out in the information paper.
He highlighted that the original strategy for West Kowloon stages 2 and
3 drainage improvement works which required the construction of two deep
box culverts through the heavily built-up areas of Mongkok had been critically
reviewed and was found to be highly disruptive to the public. The
review recommended a revision of the implementation strategy which included
the construction of a flood storage tank underneath the Tai Hang Tung Recreation
Ground (the Tai Hang Tung Flood Storage Scheme), a stormwater transfer
tunnel from Kowloon Tong to San Po Kong (the Kai Tak Transfer Scheme) and
a second tunnel intercepting hillside stormwater away from West Kowloon
(the Lai Chi Kok Transfer Scheme).
5. Noting the proposal to construct tunnels to convey stormwater,
the Chairman enquired about the viability of housing other public utilities
in these tunnels to facilitate maintenance and repair, thereby minimising
road opening works and disruption to the public. He pointed out that
years ago, Japan started to accommodate underground utilities in a tunnel.
6. The Deputy Secretary for Works (DS/W) said that when reviewing
stages 2 and 3 of the West Kowloon drainage improvement works, the consultant
engineer had circulated the proposed work and programme to all concerned
departments and utility companies for comment. There had not been
any adverse feedback so far. The Chief Assistant Secretary for Works
(CAS/W) added that the feasibility of constructing an underground box culvert
to house all facilities had been examined. Such an approach would
require considerable financial resources. It was estimated roughly
that the cost of constructing such a culvert for a new town was comparable
to the construction cost of phase I of the Mass Transit Railway project.
Besides, whilst underground facilities could be housed within a communal
tunnel, there would still be a need to connect these utilities to individual
buildings. Thus, certain section of an utility must extend beyond
the tunnel. The Assistant Director (Project and Development), Drainage
Services Department (AD/DSD) said that the Drainage Services Department
had not considered including other utilities in the drainage tunnels because
when the tunnels were filled with stormwater, it would be difficult to
undertake maintenance and repair of utilities.
7. The Chairman said that the cost of building a large tunnel
to house all utilities was inevitably high. However, the Administration
should weigh the cost against public benefits and consider the matter on
a policy level. CAS/W said that where it was considered appropriate,
the Administration did include utilities in a tunnel, as in the case of
the Lion Rock Tunnel. For heavily built-up old districts, it would
be difficult to find additional space to accommodate a large box culvert
to house all utility structures. Moreover, a major change to the
underground utilities would be highly disruptive to the public. DS/W
said that the Administration noted members' view and would consider the
merits and the viability of housing public utilities within tunnels.
8. Mr James TO noted with concern the drastic change to the original
drainage improvement strategy and sought information on the comparative
impact of the original and the revised strategies on traffic. CE/DSD
advised that the original strategy of building new drains to convey and
discharge the flood water to the sea would be highly disruptive to traffic.
Roads would have to be blocked during the execution of the works in the
heavily built-up areas of West Kowloon, especially in Mongkok where two
large box culverts were proposed to be built. All possible routings
for the culverts had been investigated. Due consideration had been
given to the constraints of space and conflicts with other underground
structures which could not be diverted. After review, the Administration
considered it necessary to revise the implementation plan to divert part
of the stormwater flow to the Kai Tak nullah and to store part of the stormwater
in a large underground tank. The revised strategy would reduce the
overall length of drains to be upgraded under stages 2 and 3 from 94 km
to 48 km, a reduction of about 50% in length.
9. Mr James TO was concerned about the feasibility of the revised
strategy as the diverted stormwater flow would travel a longer distance,
shifting the floodspots from one place to another. CE/DSD said that
a computer modelling study had been conducted on the revised strategy.
The study revealed that the diversion of water flow and the provision of
a storage tank would alleviate the problem of flooding. Presently,
the areas near the Flower Market Road and Tai Hang Tung Recreation Ground
were flood-prone. The nullah in these areas often overflowed during
heavy rains. The construction of a flood storage tank underneath
the Tai Hang Tung Recreation Ground would reduce the risk of flooding.
The water stored temporarily in the storage tank could later be pumped
away. Two transfer tunnels, running respectively from Waterloo Road
to Kai Tak Nullah (diverting about 30% of stormwater flow from Mongkok)
and from North West Kowloon to Stonecutters Island (diverting about 20%
of stormwater flow from West Kowloon) would also be required. A feasibility
study was being undertaken on the latter tunnel.
10. Responding to members' enquiry about the gradient of the transfer
tunnels, in particular about the Kai Tak transfer tunnel, CE/DSD said that
this was of prime concern in design because insufficient gradients would
result in backflow of water. The stormwater transfer tunnel under
the Kai Tak Transfer Scheme would be four metres in diameter and 1.8 kilometres
in length. This transfer tunnel was relatively short, and the stormwater
conveyed therein would flow to the Kai Tak Nullah which had spare capacity.
It was not envisaged that there would be any backflow problems.
11. Dr Raymond HO supported the revised strategy to resolve the
problem of flooding in West Kowloon. He was concerned about the coordination
of the revised strategy with the ongoing drainage improvement works as
well as the South East Kowloon Development (SEKD) which had yet to be confirmed.
12. CE/DSD advised that the revised strategy would not affect
West Kowloon drainage improvement stage 1 works, which aimed at upgrading
the existing critically under-capacity drains. Close liaison was
maintained with the Territory Development Department to ensure coordination
of the proposed drainage works with the SEKD. CAS/W added that the
SEKD plan would have no bearing on the routing of the Kai Tak transfer
tunnel and the location of discharge because the revised strategy would
only make use of the spare capacity of the Kai Tak Nullah.
13. Dr TANG Siu-tong enquired whether the Administration would
revert back to the original strategy if the revised strategy was found
to be technically not feasible. He was concerned about the resultant
delay should this be the case. CE/DSD advised that the feasibility
of the Tai Hang Tung Flood Storage Scheme and the Kai Tak Transfer Scheme
had been confirmed by the preliminary design study. The detailed
design work for these two Schemes was underway. Upon completion of
the detailed design in mid-2000, funding on the two schemes would be sought
from Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) for works to start in late 2000.
Meanwhile, a feasibility study was being undertaken on the Lai Chi Kok
14. Responding to Dr TANG Siu-tong's enquiry about the capacity
of the flood storage tank, CE/DSD said that the tank could accommodate
continuous rainfalls for six hours under a red storm warning signal (an
average of 50 mm of rainfalls per hour), or four and a half hours under
a black storm warning signal (an average of 70 mm of rainfalls per hour).
CAS/W added that it was expected that the flood storage tank and the transfer
tunnels together could accommodate rainfalls of a return period of 50 years.
15. Mr James TO enquired whether flooding would still occur if
rainfalls concentrated in a particular area. CAS/W said that presently
the drainage system in West Kowloon was under-capacity because it was receiving
stormwater from both West Kowloon and North Kowloon. As part of the
stormwater flow would be diverted to the two transfer tunnels, the Administration
believed that the drainage system in West Kowloon would have sufficient
capacity to cope with the stormwater from the area.
16. Mr James TO queried why the revised strategy, which appeared
to be straight-forward, had not been come up in the first place.
CAS/W said that the Administration had all along been trying out various
strategies in dealing with flooding. As the conventional approach
of building new drains and upgrading existing drains were found to be highly
disruptive, and with reference to overseas experience, the Drainage Services
Department arrived at the revised strategy.
V Replacement and rehabilitation of watermains
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1296/98-99(03))
17. The Assistant Director of Water Supplies (New Works), Water
Supplies Department (AD/WSD) briefly took members' through the Administration's
paper which set out the background, justification and the scope of the
proposed replacement and rehabilitation of aged watermains works.
18. In response to the Chairman's enquiry about the age distribution
of the watermains to be replaced, AD/WSD said that 45% of the watermains
were laid over 30 years. Some had been in use for 50 to 60 years
and were approaching the end of their service life. Depending on
the pipe material, the service life of fresh watermains was about 50 years
and that of salt watermains about 20 years due to corrosion. The
proposed project aimed at replacing watermains which were in a poor condition,
aged or had records of failure. A review had been made on the watermains
that had to be replaced. DS/W added that most of the watermains in
old districts like Shamshuipo, Central and Mongkok were laid in the 60's
and had been in use for nearly 40 years.
19. The Chairman was concerned about the disruption to the public
caused by road opening works associated with the replacement of watermains.
DS/W said that the Water Supplies Department (WSD) would be engaging engineering
consultants to carry out traffic impact assessment in the formulation of
the preliminary design. The consultants would also make recommendations
on the use of the latest replacement and rehabilitation techniques to minimise
road openings, and devise and supervise pilot trials to confirm the suitability
of using the new techniques in Hong Kong.
20. Dr TANG Siu-tong considered it important to coordinate the
replacement/rehabilitation programme with other drainage improvement works
to minimise road openings. AD/WSD said in response that WSD had been
in close liaison with Drainage Services Department on the programme of
works. Where works would be carried out in the same area, the two
departments would devise a co-ordinated plan to minimise road openings
as far as possible.
21. The Chairman was concerned about the interface of the design
of Phase 1A and 1B works which would be separately undertaken by WSD and
the consultants. AD/WSD said that both parties were expected to work
closely with a view to co-ordinating the entire programme of works.
The detailed design of Phase 1A works was now in hand. The Administration
planned to upgrade this part of the works to Category A in June 2000 with
a view to commencing the construction works in November 2000.
22. Dr TANG Siu-tong enquired whether the replacement/rehabilitation
project was intended as a rolling programme since the service life of salt
water pipes would expire by the time the project was completed in 20 years.
AD/WSD said that with the advancement in technology, more durable pipe
materials would be used in the replacement programme. WSD was trying
out the use of corrosion resistant plastic pipes including polyethylene
pipes for salt watermains. With the use of new and stronger pipe
materials, the service life of salt watermains could be increased to 30
years or longer.
23. Noting that about 25% of the total water supplied was lost
through bursts and leaks of water pipes per year, Dr Raymond HO agreed
on the need to implement the project as early as possible. He called
on the Administration to plan carefully to minimise nuisance to the public.
He also stressed the need to take account of the subsidence problem in
reclamation areas when implementing the project and to use more durable
pipe materials for replacement. The Administration agreed to provide
further information on the types of materials available for the replacement
24. Mr James TO considered it necessary to study the proposed
works in detail as these would take as long as 20 years to complete.
He urged the Administration to provide more information about the project
and employ consultants to provide expert advice. As the consultancy
study on Private Sector Participation (PSP) in water supply services was
underway, Mr TO enquired whether water pipes and other underground water
facilities would be considered as fixed assets, and if so, how these would
be calculated upon privatization. He opined that this issue had to
be clarified before implementing the proposed works.
25. DS/W assured members that the Administration would adhere
to the established guidelines for engaging consultants and only qualified
consultants would be employed. In view of the rapid deterioration
of water pipes, there was an urgent need to commence an effective and timely
replacement / rehabilitation programme to improve the water supply network,
irrespective of whether PSP would take place. Should privatization
of water supply services be pursued, the financial arrangements would be
worked out and these would take account of the underground assets and the
investments made under the replacement/rehabilitation programme.
26. Mr James TO said that based on the existing information, the
Democratic Party would have serious reservations in supporting the replacement/rehabilitation
programme. He pointed out that if PSP was to go ahead in two or three
years' time, the new company taking over the work of WSD should work out
its own plan as to how the improvement works could be done in the most
cost effective manner. He agreed that the problem of pipe failure
was a cause for concern. However, given the excessive supply of Dongjiang
water, the implementation of the replacement/rehabilitation programme could
be deferred to enable the working out of an effective and co-ordinated
plan to tie in with PSP. Resources from the private sector could
be mobilized then. In response to the Chairman, the Administration
agreed to provide an information paper to explain the effect of PSP on
the replacement/rehabilitation programme.
(Post-meeting note: The information requested by members was provided
by the Administration and circulated under LC Paper CB(1)1384/98-99.)
VI New control measures for New Territories exempted houses
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1296/98-99(01))
Meeting with professional institutes
27. The Chairman invited representatives of each of the professional
institutes to express their view.
28. Mr Barry WILL, Chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects
(HKIA), said that there was little difference between the building process
of NTEH and other houses which were developed under a comprehensive development
plan and hence there was no reason that NTEH should be treated in a different
way. There was a need to solve not just the structural problems of
NTEH but also environmental problems, sustainability problems, and maintenance
problems. HKIA was of the view that the stop-gap control measures
presently introduced by the Administration were insufficient and could
not resolve all the problems. Mr WILL stressed that assuring the structural
stability of NTEH was not enough. These buildings should meet the
same criteria in respect of environmental, drainage and other safety requirements.
The whole building process should be looked after by an Authorised Person
(AP). Buildings would fall into disrepair very quickly if the design
and other building aspects were not properly taken care of. A comprehensive
approach to deal with the entire building process was required.
Buildings which had gone through a comprehensive building process would
be more valuable to both owners and the community as they would be of a
better quality. HKIA submitted that if changes were to be made, NTEH
should not remain as an exempted category but should fall within the control
of the Buildings Ordinance, Cap. 123 under the normal building process.
29. Ir WONG Chi-ming of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
(HKIE) said that HKIE supported the new control measures to ensure the
structural safety of NTEH. The newly formulated Technical Guidelines
on the Design and Construction of NTEH (Technical Guidelines) would provide
technical guidance to the fundamental requirements on the design and construction
of structural elements to ensure safety. The requirement to appoint
Registered Structural Engineer (RSE) or Registered Professional Engineer
(RPE) and T2 competent persons to respectively monitor the construction
of critical structural elements and supervise the construction of the entire
house would ensure compliance with the technical requirements and hence
the safety of NTEH. Clear delineation of responsibilities would improve
accountability for non-compliance.
30. Mr C K LAU of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)
said that apart from the briefing given to the professional institutes
on 12 February 1999, the Administration had not further consulted HKIS
in its formulation of the Technical Guidelines nor provided it with a copy
which HKIS obtained from a District Lands Office. Mr LAU then took
members through HKIS's submission which was tabled at the meeting, highlighting
the following points -
- For the sake of public safety and in the public interest, the control
mechanism and construction standards, as well as the planning and safety
standards of NTEH should be comprehensively reviewed;
- A quick and simple solution was to disallow the building of balconies
and canopies in NTEH by amending the Buildings Ordinance (Application to
the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap. 121);
- Any enhanced control of NTEH must be within the purview of the Buildings
Ordinance. If additional monitoring was required, this should be
undertaken by an AP and RSE under the Buildings Ordinance. The exemption
of NTEH from section 4 of the Buildings Ordinance as provided for in section
7 of the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance
need to be reviewed;
- If certification of the building works of NTEH was required, the
works must be carried out by a Registered Building Contractor (RBC) and
supervised by an AP or RSE; and
- An overall review of the NTEH policy vis-a-vis minor works policy
(Post-meeting note: A copy of HKIS's submission was circulated to members
under LC Paper No. CB(1)1334/98-99.)
31. Concluding his presentation, Mr C K LAU said that HKIS was
dissatisfied over the imposition of the new control measures. At the meeting
on 12 February 1999, HKIA and HKIS had clearly indicated that the role
of AP and RSE were equally important in the supervision of the construction
of NTEH. However, their views had been ignored and the present guidelines
only provided for the appointment of RSE/RPE for the monitoring of construction
of critical structural elements. Mr LAU said that it was both discriminating
and ultra vires to ignore APs who were qualified to take full charge of
building structures. Moreover, it was contrary to the principle of
equal opportunities that members of HKIS and HKIA, who were qualified to
become AP under the Buildings Ordinance, were excluded from appointment
under the new guidelines for NTEH. He requested members to seek a
review of the new guidelines. As affected parties would need time
to study the new guidelines, HKIS was of the view that implementation of
the guidelines should be deferred, or at least a grace period should be
provided before implementation.
Meeting with the Administration
32. The Chairman said that as the representative of the Architectural,
Surveying and Planning Functional Constituency in LegCo, he was gravely
concerned about the allegation of discrimination against architects and
surveyors in respect of the new control measures. Given the large
number of NTEH, control was an issue of public concern. He agreed
with HKIA and HKIS that apart from the question of structural safety, other
building aspects of NTEH should also be looked into. He was concerned
that consultation on the control measures was inadequate but these had
already been put into operation. As the design of NTEH could be quite
varied, he doubted the merits of issuing guidelines which might not apply
to each and every NTEH.
33. The Director of Buildings (D of B) said that under the Buildings
Ordinance, building works were subject to three levels of supervision,
namely by AP, RSE and registered contractors. This three-tier supervision
applied to all urban buildings which in most cases were multi-storey and
complicated in structure. Having considered the features of NTEH
which were relatively simple in structure and design, the Administration
considered a three-tier supervision excessive. The new guidelines
therefore required the appointment of a T2 competent person to supervise
the construction of NTEH. A T2 competent person, who should have
the required academic qualification and the minimum three-year experience
in construction works, would have the necessary expertise in supervising
the construction of NTEH. To enhance the safety of NTEH, the new
control measures imposed a second level of supervision, requiring the appointment
of RSE or RPE to monitor the construction of critical structural elements.
The proposed two-tier supervision involving RSE/RPE and a T2 competent
person were considered adequate and appropriate in ensuring the structural
safety of NTEH. In fact, the safety standard in respect of the required
monitoring of critical structural elements of NTEH were the same as those
required of building works under the Buildings Ordinance.
34. Mr Barry WILL said that HKIA was not trying to ensure job
opportunities for APs. It was concerned that any changes to the system
should be made for the better. He pointed out that many exempted
houses were some sizeable developments and many of these houses were sub-divided
for sale or rent. HKIA considered it necessary to improve the whole
construction process to ensure safety. Referring to page 9 of the
new guidelines concerning slab thickness of canopies, Mr WILL said that
the given specifications and details were unsatisfactory and unsafe.
If the following of specifications in the guidelines could guarantee safety,
there would not be any need to appoint RSE or RPE for the supervision of
construction. He reiterated that the guidelines were only a half-way
measure and were by no means comprehensive solution to the problem.
HKIA therefore objected to the new control measures. The Chairman
concurred with Mr WILL that it was not proper to provide building details
as these might not apply to each and every NTEH.
35. Responding to the Chairman's query about the application of
disparate building requirements between NTEH and non-NTEHs, the Deputy
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (DS/PEL) said that historically
exemption was granted to small houses built in the New Territories which
were relatively simple in design and construction. When the Buildings
Ordinance was extended to the New Territories in 1960, small houses remained
an exempted category. Following the collapse of a balcony of a NTEH,
the Administration considered it necessary to issue guidelines on their
design and construction to ensure safety. The Administration considered
that unless and until there was a policy change on NTEH, the status quo
should be maintained. The Buildings Ordinance (Application to the
New Territories) Ordinance was under review and a decision would be reached
in due course on the need to make amendments.
36. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment
and Lands (PAS/PEL) added that following the collapse of a balcony at Swallow
Garden on 24 December 1998, the Administration had undertaken to issue
guidelines on the construction of NTEH. Professional institutes had
been consulted and a meeting with them was held on 12 February 1999 to
discuss the proposed guidelines. The Administration had taken a pragmatic
approach to address public concern over the safety of NTEH. The new
control measures which could be implemented under the existing law were
immediately put into place. These were intended to be stop-gap measures.
The Administration, on the other hand, undertook to review the Buildings
Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance. This review
would look into the need for control over other aspects apart from structural
safety. The review would take some time and upon completion, legislative
changes might be introduced.
37. Dr TANG Siu-tong declared interest as an indigenous villager.
He said that he did not own a NTEH. Given the land and other constraints
in the construction of small houses, these could not be built if stringent
requirements under the Buildings Ordinance were to be applied. The
prime concern was structural safety. In his view, the new guidelines
had served this purpose. He therefore supported the new control measures.
38. PAS/PEL said in response to Dr Raymond HO that the construction
of a NTEH which had no critical structural elements did not require monitoring
by RSE/RPE provided that the foundation complied with specifications.
However, supervision by a T2 competent person for the construction of the
entire house was still required.
39. Dr Raymond HO enquired whether NTEH under construction would
be affected by the new control measures and whether the Administration
would consider approving NTEH over three storeys to maximise land use.
40. In view of the time constraints, the Chairman asked the Administration
to take note of Dr HO's questions. He said that pending the Administration's
reply to HKIS's submission, the Panel might discuss the subject again.
VII Any other business
41. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 6:45 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
16 August 1999