Power threat a turn-off for Cup viewers
Billy Wong Wai-Yuk
More than 322,000 families in public housing estates could face World Cup blackouts because their electricity supplies are on a waiting list to be upgraded.
Tenants were left disgruntled during the 1990 tournament when electricity levels failed to meet the sudden surge in demand at night and the Housing Department was swamped with about 770 complaints.
The sudden blackouts sparked fierce criticism.
They prompted the Housing Department to conduct an immediate upgrading for housing blocks that were built before 1973.
The following year, the department announced another programme to boost power for the rest of the housing stock.
'It was carried out because tenants have installed more electrical appliances like air-conditioners and computers,' Housing Department maintenance surveyor Terence Lam Yat-ming said.
The programme targeted about 600 housing blocks built between 1973 and 1992. It involved electrical reinforcement and rewiring to allow up to 30 amperes of power for each household.
This would bring homes up to the standard of private properties.
But the project is not due for completion until 2004. Five hundred housing blocks with 322,713 households have not yet had their wiring upgraded.
But Mr Lam said he hoped few football fans would end up being left in the dark.
A priority system had been followed in upgrading the supplies.
'Though these blocks have not been upgraded thoroughly, complaints about electrical faults have plunged in the past few years to an average of 62 cases each year,' he said.
Mr Lam said the electricity upgrading programme was carried out according to the age of housing blocks.
The worst ones had been dealt with and there should be relatively few blackouts, he said.