Keep the peace and make Saturday a respite from city's construction noise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2011, 12:00am

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It was odd to wake up on a Saturday morning and be able to sleep in. The peace and quiet was also unusual for a Saturday and then the revelation hit us - it was October 1, a public holiday, so there was no sound of construction work on the neighbouring Swire Properties developments on Seymour and Caine roads. Thankfully, it was a day of respite from the constant noise of jackhammering and mini-earthquakes from piledriving that residents usually have to endure on their Saturdays off.

Despite claiming to be socially responsible, property developers are not considering the community by carrying on heaving construction activity on Saturdays. Jackhammering and piledriving should be restricted to weekdays only, even though the Noise Control Ordinance allows otherwise.

Corporate social responsibility is about companies going beyond their legal obligations in consideration of their stakeholders, in this case the community. The government commenced a five-day working week in 2006. Isn't it time property developers like Swire gave the community a break and extended the principle of a five-day working week to their supply chains, thus limiting noisy and earth-shaking activities to weekdays?

The government needs urgently to review the ordinance to give Hong Kong people the peace and quiet they deserve on Saturdays. While noise pollution from construction in Hong Kong is a necessary evil, it must be minimised. Loud construction noise and piling causes stress to residents, wakes sleeping babies and adversely affects landlords and tenants.

Landlords suffer as it's difficult to rent out properties near noisy construction sites that operate on Saturdays. The only solution is to drop rents if they're lucky enough to find a tenant willing to put up with the noise and shaking ground.

Prospective buyers of those properties are also discouraged from buying potentially low-yielding investments. Additionally, physical damage such as cracks in walls can occur as a result of construction activities in nearby developments.

Most companies now adhere to a five-day working week. This includes property developers when it comes to their corporate staff, yet they think it's acceptable to make the community put up with the consequences of their construction activities on Saturdays. Property developers, when will you act responsibly? Hong Kong government, when will you review the ordinance?

Chris Knop, Mid-Levels