IGNORANCE and the unwillingness of owners to pay for repairs are derailing government attempts to improve slope safety. Surveys over the last two years show just a handful of building managers have responded to official pleas to inspect and maintain privately owned slopes and retaining walls. Now researchers from the University of Hong Kong are being called in to do a survey on public attitudes to slope maintenance. Government engineers and university staff are finalising the survey, which should be complete by the end of the year. Chief geotechnical engineer Raymond Chan Kin-sek said the Mutual Aid Committee and the Home Affairs Department will be asked to help organise the inquiry. The aim is for the public to put pressure on building managers to carry out inspections and maintenance to prevent storm water entering slopes and hillsides. Engineers said landslides occurred because rain water had been allowed to penetrate protective concrete and drainage channels. Out of 63 slopes inspected by government engineers last year, only eight had been upgraded after letters were sent to the building own-ers. Most were in an appalling condition, needing either work on blocked drains (54 per cent), or surface repairs (21 per cent). Just over a third were acceptable. Mr Chan said the owners who were aware of their responsibilities simply did not want to pay for the repairs. Others did not know they were responsible for ensuring the slopes were safe. 'One of the reasons is many buildings are in multi-ownership. Eighty per cent may agreed to pay for the repairs, but the other 20 per cent disagree,' he said. The Government is considering tougher action against private owners who refuse to carry out repairs. This could include a slopes certification scheme to force owners to have their structures checked and approved every five years.