Hong Kong MTR must come clean on safety risks to assure To Kwa Wan residents
I refer to your article, “Residents fear for their safety as buildings shake and cracks appear in walls during MTR construction” (August 10).
The MTR’s HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin-Central line has sparked a storm of controversy and concerns. First, steel bars were cut short to make it seem as if they had been screwed correctly into couplers at Hung Hom station. Next, it was discovered that a wall had been built with 2,000 fewer couplers than the original plan required.
Then, buildings in 23 areas around the To Kwa Wan station site were revealed to have sunk below the statutory limit. After construction of the station started in 2012, residents said some buildings began to shake and cracks appeared in walls. Finally, there is the more serious sinking around the new station near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
One resident of To Kwa Wan said she noticed cracks in her flat widening and the water in her toilet cistern cutting out when she flushed five years ago, around the time that the MTR construction started. Some residents have had to resort to using fresh water to flush their toilets for the past few years. Neither the MTR nor the government offered them help despite being notified of the problems.
I was sorry to read about the residents’ situation; they are really helpless. To Kwa Wan is an old area with most buildings constructed decades ago. Apart from blocks of flats, the area is criss-crossed by water pipes and gas pipes; the consequence if they were affected would be dire. Four gas pipes in the area have been affected by subsidence. A gas leak could cause an explosion just like four years ago in Taiwan. As a To Kwa Wan resident, I am concerned.
If the MTR really wants to dispel everyone’s doubts, it must be transparent. Stopping work on select projects is not enough.
Adrian Lui, To Kwa Wan
MTR should take responsibility for residents’ distress
I refer to the cases of sinking buildings in To Kwa Wan. MTR Corp must bear the responsibility of compensating residents whose homes have been affected by construction of the station. The lives of the residents have been affected for many years. They faced disruptions of water supply and felt their entire building shake during MTR drilling work. Some even had to use wallpaper and plastic sheets to cover widening cracks on the walls. Housing is a big issue for Hongkongers, and now these people are afraid that their homes may have become too dangerous to live in.
However, MTR Corp has dismissed public concerns, saying “safety remains unaffected” and land subsidence is a “common phenomenon” during piling, excavation and groundwater extraction work.
MTR Corp should compensate the affected residents for their maintenance expenses and apologise to them. The government should also tighten the supervision of MTR and check the affected buildings for safety risks.
Chow Sin Ying, Kwai Chung