Slope works to cut landslides by 50pc

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2007, 12:00am

Programme should reduce hazards caused by landslips during heavy rain

A multibillion-dollar slope-safety scheme will lower the risk of landslides in the city by 50 per cent from the hazardous levels seen before 2000, according to the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

Under the 10-year programme, HK$1.5 billion is being spent each year to repair and maintain man-made slopes from 2000 to 2010.

'The overall risk of landslides has dropped significantly in the past three decades,' said Au Yeung Yan-sang, the department's chief geotechnical engineer. 'But there is no room for complacency and we must always maintain vigilance about the danger of landslides.'

Under the scheme, the department identifies 300 private slopes and 250 government slopes each year for safety checks and reinforcement.

There are about 57,000 artificial slopes in Hong Kong, of which 39,000 are owned by the government.

Mr Au Yeung said an average 300 landslides were reported each year in the past two decades, with 18 deaths caused by landslides since 1986.

'The actual number of landslides is believed to be higher than reported,' he said.

The number of landslips fluctuates from year to year depending on the severity of rainstorms.

Reported landslips soared to a record 827 cases in 1993 and dropped to a low of 69 cases in 2004. Last year, 195 landslips were reported.

The last fatality occurred in Sham Tseng San Tsuen in 1999 when a torrent of mud demolished a squatter home and damaged several others, causing one death and 13 injuries.

In 1994, a landslide in Kennedy Town killed five people and injured three.

The landslip warning was then in force, with the landslide potential index set by government engineers at the highest level of 10.

Mr Au Yeung said more than 90 per cent of fatal landslips had occurred when the landslip warning was in force.

'It is a good indicator that the warning has been effective and reliable,' he said. 'Therefore, the public should be on high alert to the landslip warning and take our warning messages seriously.'

The department says about 40 per cent of landslides affect footpaths, parks and outdoor car parks. Eighteen per cent of landslips affect squatter homes, while about 11 per cent affect buildings. Roads are affected in about 26 per cent of landslips.

During a landslip warning, pedestrians should try to stay away from steep slopes and motorists should avoid driving in hilly areas. Squatters whose homes are vulnerable should move to safer places.

Mr Au Yeung reminded owners of private slopes to comply with safety requirements before the rainy season arrived. 'As the wet season is approaching, slope owners should have completed the routine inspection and all necessary slope maintenance and repair work.'

Hillside toll

An average of 300 landslips were reported annually in the past 20 years

Total number of deaths caused by landslips in the past two decades: 18