To tackle the fifth wave of the epidemic, a number of community isolation facilities (CIFs) have been constructed in Hong Kong with Mainland support. With the construction of these facilities, our capacity to combat the epidemic has been significantly enhanced. Recently, the first batch of the Penny’s Bay Community Isolation Facility, consisting of around 1 000 units, has been handed over for operation. We will continue to take forward at full steam the remaining facilities in Penny’s Bay, as well as the large-scale CIFs adjacent to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and in Lok Ma Chau Loop. This time, I have invited frontline colleagues of the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) to introduce to us the features of Kai Tak CIF, the challenges encountered during construction, and share with us how they feel.
Adopting Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) in the project
Currently under construction, the Kai Tak CIF and the Penny’s Bay CIF are different from the six CIFs that have begun operation recently, which are all one-storey buildings located respectively in Tsing Yi; the former site of the Boxes, San Tin; a site on the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; next to Ma Sik Road in Fanling; near Kai Pak Ling Road in Hung Shui Kiu; and in Tam Mei in Yuen Long. Both the CIFs at Kai Tak and Penny’s Bay are built using Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), where most of the parts of the pre-fabricated modules, such as windows, switches, walls, ceilings and floor slabs have been finished in the factory. The modules are then transported to the construction sites for simple assembly and for connection to the water, electricity and sewage systems, effectively reducing construction time.
Completed in two phases in May and June
The Kai Tak CIF is relatively large in scale. With about 3 000 units, the facility is 4-storey tall and installed with lifts. Other ancillary facilities, such as stairs, corridors and roofs, are also pre-fabricated and then transported to the construction site for assembly. Technical Secretary of the ArchSD, Miss LAW Mei-sze, Michelle, shares with us that the habitable units at Kai Tak have been built up to the fourth floor. Electrical and mechanical connection and commissioning processes are also underway. The facility will be completed in two phases in May and June. The project team is working hard for an early completion to strengthen Hong Kong’s ability to combat the epidemic and enhance our isolation capacity.
Miss Michelle LAW says that the biggest challenge is that they have to build the facility from scratch and complete it within a very short time. The planning and layout of the entire facility and its ancillary facilities have to comply with legislative requirements, and also cater to the requirements of the future operator. A lot of co-ordination is involved. While further detail developing the design, the team has to provide construction details according to the works progress, so that design, fabrication and construction work can be conducted simultaneously.
Working against time every day
Senior Building Services Engineer of the ArchSD, Mr HU Jinshan, Arnold, says that in view of the rapid development of the epidemic, the biggest challenge is that they have to work against time every day. For example, in terms of electrical and mechanical systems, water supply, power supply and drainage systems are basic requirements, the project cannot be conducted if any one of them is not in place. Therefore, the team has to finish vetting plans, finalizing the system design strategy and contacting relevant departments in just a few days to ensure that the works can be carried out.
In addition, as the Kai Tak isolation facility is a four-storey design, the provision of lifts is necessary. Mr Arnold HU says that it normally takes at least six months from ordering to final delivery and installation of a lift, but that is totally unacceptable for this project. Fortunately, with the concerted efforts of the team, the lifts are now expected to be installed in a shorter period of time.
Grateful to colleagues for “filling in” to help with the stress
Speaking of her participation in the Kai Tak project, Miss Michelle LAW says that she was involved in the construction of Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre (PBQC) in 2020, so when she was notified that she would be working on the Kai Tak project, her mind immediately went back to her previous experience in building such facilities, hoping to get into the swing of things as soon as possible to help take forward the project. Compared with previous isolation facilities, the Kai Tak project is much larger in scale and on a much tighter schedule, requiring a tremendous amount of concentration. For this reason, she is deeply grateful for the support of her family and the advice of her colleagues, who have helped her cope with the stress by “filling in” for each other when she was fully occupied.
Proud to be taking part in the project
Mr Arnold HU remarks that he feels a great sense of responsibility for the Kai Tak project. In the face of a serious epidemic, the project team has to complete the project as soon as possible, because a day’s delay in the delivery of the isolation facility means another day the public will have to wait. Consequently, the project has put him under a lot of stress; but at the same time, he feels proud that he has the honour to contribute to the anti-epidemic work. Although he was once worried about getting infected and affecting his family, he understands that only by completing the isolation facility as soon as possible can he protect the lives and health of the public, so he is fully committed to completing the works as soon as possible.
I am very grateful that with the full support of the Central Government, a tripartite liaison mechanism has been set up by the HKSAR Government, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the contractor to mobilise works departments to set up a task force for constructing a number of community isolation and treatment facilities at full speed through close communication and co-ordination among all parties. The nine CIFs, providing a total of about 50 000 beds, are a miracle of joint effort, greatly enhancing Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic and isolation capabilities. In the face of changes in the epidemic, we cannot afford to be complacent - we must make the best preparations for the worst scenario. Once the epidemic has subsided, some of the facilities may have the potential to be converted to transitional housing, with a view to putting the people first.
24 April, 2022Back