Breathing new life into drab Hong Kong nullah

Government plans ‘vibrant public space that residents can stop to enjoy’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 10:00am

The musty smell of stormwater is hard to ignore near the King Yip Street nullah, a 1km, concrete-lined drain channel that connects Kwun Tong’s Tsui Ping area to Kowloon Bay.

There is nothing appealing about this piece of infrastructure, which has helped control flooding in the district for more than 50 years.

But that is set to change when the Drainage Services Department’s revitalisation plan for the nullah – or “Tsui Ping River” as it will then be known – is completed in a few years. The project aims to improve the catchwater’s look, accessibility, environment, water quality and even ecology.

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Senior engineer for drainage projects Chan Hak-keung said the idea was to add recreational and ecological value to the nullah’s functional value.

“In the past the nullah was a barrier within the community,” Chan said.

“We hope to integrate this facility with the community... to turn it into a vibrant public space that residents can stop to enjoy.”

The project was part of the government’s Energising Kowloon East Conceptual Master Plan 5.0, published in 2016. The first stage of a public engagement was completed just last month and the department expects detailed designs to start some time this year.

New features being considered include an “intelligent” water gate which would keep a minimum level of water in the channel to preserve plants and animals in it, and a floating pontoon with footbridges.

A trial scheme is also under way to explore the feasibility of using natural linings like soil or gravel to replace parts of the concrete river bed, and different aquatic plants such as mangroves.

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Chan said most residents supported the project, but had raised the need to improve connectivity and walkways, enhance the aquatic habitats in the river and improve water quality.

District councillor Nelson Chan Wah-yu, who represents Central Kwun Tong, said he was glad the project had finally got going, as councillors had fought for such changes 11 years ago when an original plan was to fill in the entire nullah.

“It reduces the heat island effect,” he said, referring to when an urban area warms up significantly compared to surrounding areas due to human activity.

“This will certainly change the environment and improve the lives of residents and those conducting business in the area. It should also reduce the problem of odour that we get when there isn’t much water flow.”

He urged the department not to compromise the safety and flood control.

Councillor Hsu Hoi-shan, who represents Kwun Tong’s Yuet Wah, said the main harbourfront was a long way for residents in his area so another big recreational public space was beneficial.