Cost cuts may have caused fall

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 12:00am

The high cost of repairing the wall of an old building in Tsim Sha Tsui may have led to an accident in which a policeman was injured by a 1kg lump of falling concrete on Thursday, a building representative said yesterday.

The 26-year-old policeman suffered head injuries after being hit by a chunk of concrete the size of a fist outside Hankow Apartments at 43-49 Hankow Road. He was discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital yesterday.

Ng Yiu-mun, the chairman of Hankow Apartments owners' committee, said repairs had been done on the building in 2000, but mainly focused on internal facilities and equipment, including a lift, pipes and electrical wires.

He said the work had cost $3 million and the owners of the 90 residential flats and 25 shops had paid about $25,000 each.

'Although we considered repairing the wall of the building, each of us would have to pay $50,000 to $60,000,' said Mr Ng. But he was confident his committee could raise the money to repair the wall after the accident.

Mr Ng said his building was insured for $10 million and could pay for any liability for the accident. But solicitor Daniel Wong Kwok-tung warned that if it was confirmed the concrete had fallen from the building, residents might not have enough insurance.

'Victims of such accidents can seek up to $30 million compensation. As a result of insufficient insurance cover, residents would have to share the remaining compensation,' said Mr Wong.

Repairs began yesterday on the building and part of Hankow Road remained sealed off.

The Buildings Department found concrete outside the fifth, sixth and seventh floors could fall and said it would demand the owners' committee repair the wall.

Senior police inspector Kwok Hing-cheung said investigations concluded the concrete lump was not deliberately thrown.

Last night, concrete and sand fell from a building in Chatham Road South, about 500 metres from where the officer was hit, but no one was injured. 'A shopkeeper called and said lumps of concrete and sand fell in front of his shop from the building's 5th floor unit,' a police spokesman said.