Always trying to minimise disruption
I refer to the letter from Ned Autsun headlined, 'Residents face roadworks nightmare' (South China Morning Post, January 4), concerning what he described as the 'continual' roadworks and environmental nuisance caused to residents of the area of Mid-Levels between Caine, Bonham, Robinson, Conduit and Park roads.
The Highways Department co-ordinates and controls roadworks through our excavation permit-issuing mechanism and our computer program, known as the utility management system. Before we issue excavation permits to the utilities companies concerned, they are required to explore any possibility of a common trenching scheme and to programme the utility works in an orderly manner. They are also required to obtain approval regarding proposed temporary traffic arrangements, from the Transport Department and traffic police. In order to minimise traffic disruption and inconvenience to the public, traffic restrictions might be imposed, so that the utility works can only be carried out during the daytime and the site will be covered with steel plates, when work is not in progress, so it can be used by traffic. Utilities are restricted (except for emergencies) from digging up a portion of road, for three months after the completion of a series of co-ordinated roadworks.
We studied the excavation works in this area, which included the Drainage Services Department's sewerage improvement works, telecommunication cable-ducting works and utilities collection works to new building sites. There were also some emergency repair works for damaged utilities such as water pipes. All government departments and utilities work closely, to properly programme the roadworks and minimise traffic disruption and adverse effects on the environment. However, roadworks are inevitable as they provide and maintain adequate utility services and road systems.
When utility works are underway, we put a lot of effort into urging contractors to expedite their work and cause minimum inconvenience to the public. Warning letters are issued in response to non-compliance of the conditions of the excavation permit, such as an unattended site, unsatisfactory temporary reinstatement, improper lighting, signing and guarding. We also carefully examine requests for extension of excavation permits, before approval is granted.
W. H. LUK
Senior Engineer/Highways Complaints