Landlords neglect duty to prevent killer landslides
Government urges those ignoring orders to repair slopes to act before the rainy season
Nearly a quarter of landlords ordered to repair their man-made slopes in the past three years have not done so, Buildings Department figures show.
More than 760 orders are still pending and the department has taken 32 landlords to court in the past 12 months. However, only nine people in such cases pleaded guilty.
"I am concerned about the decreased public awareness of landslides. With the rainy season in Hong Kong approaching, it is important to remind the public to stay safe," said Au Yeung Yan-sang, deputy head of the geotechnical engineering office (Island) at the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD).
Announcing measures to prevent landslides yesterday, he said the drop in the number of such incidents and their resulting fatalities seem to have dulled public awareness of the dangers.
The CEDD urged private owners to inspect and complete any maintenance work on slopes as soon as possible ahead of the onslaught of the rainy season.
Over 75 per cent of the 161 landslides last year were near squatter housing, footpaths and roads. Au Yeung urged the public to be vigilant and to avoid walkways and driveways on slopes during storms.
The number of landslides last year was lower than Hong Kong's annual average of 300, mainly due to less rainfall - the major cause of loosening soil and landslides - and effective preventive measures performed by the government, said Au Yeung.
The department has planned to spend HK$1 billion annually to "reduce the landslide risk to a minimum", he said.
Au Yeung revealed that this year the department will conduct safety inspections on 100 of Hong Kong's approximately 20,000 private man-made slopes.
The CEDD will also upgrade 150 of the 40,000 or so government man-made slopes.
Au Yeung said high-risk sites would be given priority.
All man-made slopes had to undergo a basic inspection every year and another thorough check by a licensed engineer every five years, he said.
The CEDD also plans to conduct risk studies on 30 natural hillside areas.
Au Yeung said that it remained difficult to predict landslides, which depend on the amount and duration of rainfall, the location and prevention measures undertaken.