The rainy and typhoon season has begun in Hong Kong. A few days ago, the Hong Kong Observatory issued landslip warning amid heavy downpours under Typhoon Signal No. 3. Colleagues of various departments are always on standby and ready to respond to any emergency incidents. As Father’s Day is approaching, I would like to share with you in two consecutive weeks the work of two frontline workers and their little stories as a father, so as to show our support for all good dads.
The weather has been unstable recently. As flooding and landslips may occur in the low-lying areas in the rural areas and in some urban areas during severe rainstorms, the public should stay vigilant. Over the years, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) has adopted a three-pronged approach to flood prevention: intercepting stormwater runoff with drainage tunnels at upstream; temporarily storing stormwater with underground stormwater storage tanks at mid-stream; and improving drainage capacity through local drainage improvement works at downstream. With the completion and commissioning of major flood prevention projects in succession, the number of flooding blackspots has now drastically reduced to six from 90 in 1995. Nevertheless, drain blockages still occur from time to time. At present, the DSD receives an average of about 100 cases of enquiries or requests for assistance related to blocked drains every day, and the number becomes even higher during rainy season.
Currently, the DSD has 11 teams under the Direct Labour Force for clearing blocked drains, each with four to five Leading Sewermen or Workmen II led by a Drain Chargeman to discharge their duties. This week, I would like to introduce Mr KOO Wai-ming, who has worked in the DSD for over three decades. Starting out as a Workman II, he was promoted to Drain Chargeman 10 years ago. He is not only a senior staff member in our department with total dedication, but also a guardian angel for his child.
More than clearing blocked drains
Sharing his job experience, Mr KOO said that when an Amber/Red/Black rainstorm warning or a typhoon signal is hoisted, the DSD colleagues have to remain on standby on a rotational basis, 24 hours a day, at the Emergency Co-ordination Centre (ECC) to receive and handle public requests for assistance. The frontline staff, once alerted by the ECC, will rush to the scene across the territory. Upon arriving at the scene, the DSD workers will first use devices to test for any poisonous or explosive gas before opening manholes. After that, they will desilt the blocked drains with rattan strips or high-pressure water jets.
Handling emergency cases with a clear head
Talking about his most memorable experience, Mr KOO recalled that he had once received an urgent request from a member of the public. Arriving at the scene, he found the female caller emotionally unstable. He did his best to comfort the lady, while at the same time he had to take prompt action with his colleagues to solve the blockage problem. He later realised that the lady, being a new mother, had made incessant phone calls simply because she was worried that the foul water would affect her baby. The incident tells him that there are always reasons behind the requests for assistance or complaints from the public or those in need, and therefore they should help them solve their problems as fast as possible with a positive attitude.
A tough man’s tender love for his son
Besides his work, our tough man Mr KOO also shared with us his family life. When he talked about his family and his love for his son, his sentimental side shone through. He has a 12-year-old son. As he works shifts, he sometimes has to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Whenever there is an emergency, he is required to go on duty at all hours and even has to work overnight. At times, his son complains that he is often not at home. As a father, he can only explain to his son with patience that his work is to serve the community and there is a public need for his service. He hopes that his son will understand better as he grows up. In the past, he read his son stories. In the blink of an eye, his son will soon become a Secondary One student and the way they get along has changed a lot. One thing is certain, however, he just cannot be too strict with his son and they need to communicate as friends to maintain their bonds.
The name of Mr KOO’s son, KOO Chung-hang, carries a special meaning. Mr KOO believes that all parents have expectations of their children. He said the name he picked for his son comes from Confucius, whose second name is Zhongni (Chung-nei in Cantonese), with “Chung” meaning integrity. Although he does not expect his son to have great achievements, he hopes his son will be a good, virtuous and righteous man. Regarding his son’s future occupation, he said it will be up to his son.
Salute to frontline staff
After sharing Mr KOO’s story, I hope that members of the public will get a better grasp of our frontline staff’s work. They dedicate themselves to the community and are always ready to help the public with their problems. On top of that, they also shoulder the responsibility of taking care of their families. They are absolutely worthy of our applause, encouragement and support.
10 June, 2018Back