Following is a question by the Hon Lau Wong-fat and an oral reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, in the Legislative Council meeting today (November 13) :-
Regarding the surface of pavements using paving slabs, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the life expectancy of such slabs and whether they are made of recycled materials;
(b) given that the surface of these pavements will become rugged or even subside suddenly after prolonged use, of the measures in place to ensure that, for the safety of pedestrians, these pavements are properly maintained; and
(c) of the channels currently available to members of the public for lodging complaints or reporting to the authorities in respect of uneven pavement surface; whether it will draw up a performance pledge that the pavements concerned will be repaired within a certain number of days after receiving complaints or reports?
(a) To upgrade the streetscape of Hong Kong to world-class city standards, the Highways Department (HyD) is actively promoting the use of quality precast paving slabs of different sizes, shapes, colours and patterns for pavement surfaces to provide a more pleasant and harmonious environment. Since precast paving slabs are recyclable and heavy machines like jackhammers are no longer needed in road opening works thus reducing noise from construction work, this kind of slabs is more environmentally friendly and economical to use. In addition, it takes more time for ordinary concrete pavements to mature and harden and they cannot be open for immediate use upon completion of the works like those pavements paved with precast paving slabs. Such slabs are therefore especially suited to the pace in Hong Kong.
The life expectancy of precast paving slabs depends on the type of material used, pedestrian flow and the surroundings. In general, the life expectancy of such slabs is about ten years.
At present, the Government does not require the use of recycled materials in the production of precast paving slabs. However, the Government encourages the use of recycled materials and is working with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to conduct a research on the production of precast concrete paving slabs by using such materials. The research is in progress and the performance of such slabs is being tested and monitored.
(b) The ruggedness of precast paving slabs is due to various factors, including overloading caused by illegal parking, loss of sand underlain due to leakage of pipes or heavy rains just after the laying of slabs, problems in construction programmes or sub-standard reinstatement works following road opening works.
The HyD conducts regular inspections of all public roads and often receives reports of road defects from the public. For those defects that may threaten public safety, the HyD will arrange for immediate repairs. If the works cannot be completed immediately due to other arrangements, the HyD will keep pedestrians away from the affected areas by providing suitable lighting, signs and protective barriers to prevent accidents from happening.
(c) The HyD receives any complaints lodged through various channels such as telephone, e-mail, letter, fax and the Road Damage or Defect Report form. Members of the public can also report any road defects through the HyD's web site. The HyD operates a 24 hours complaint hotline. The information about such channels is available in the "Highways Department Performance Pledge" booklet and the Department's web site.
Upon receipt of complaints about rugged surfaces of precast paving slabs, the HyD will promptly arrange for inspections. For road holes that may threaten public safety, the Department undertakes to carry out emergency repairs within 48 hours. With regard to road defects such as rugged or uneven pavement surfaces, it may take a longer time for the HyD to make adequate preparations and to coordinate with the persons affected such as shop owners. The time required largely depends on site constraints, scope of works, traffic diversion and the necessary liaison work.
End/Wednesday, November 13, 2002