Secretary for Development speaks about building collapse

Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, speaking to the media after inspecting the scene of the building collapse case in Ma Tau Wai Road this afternoon (January 30):
Reporter: Can you explain the priority of the inspection of the buildings? How do you plan to regulate renovation works?

Secretary for Development: First of all, this is an extensive and comprehensive inspection of roughly 4,000 buildings aged 50 years and over. I am talking about buildings completed before 1960. This is a comprehensive check across the territory of all the buildings of this age, which we believed are more or less of similar construction, which is reinforced concrete framed construction. The priority is of the same, based on resources we could mobilise, I've mentioned that we are going to set up 40 teams of professional and technical staff to go out to various parts of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories to inspect these 4,000 buildings. The target is to complete these comprehensive inspection within a month. We will then follow up with the needed remedial action.

Reporter: Would it be better to regulate renovation work?

Secretary for Development: As you know, over the last couple of years, we have actually done quite a number of things to enhance building safety in Hong Kong. First, in terms of regulation, we have introduced the legislation to implement what we called a minor works control regime, that would make it easier for owners to appoint minor works contractors without involving authorised person to do the minor works. We will launch this particular scheme pretty soon. Next Wednesday, I'm going to introduce into the Legislative Council a new piece of legislation to amend the Buildings Ordinance to provide for mandatory inspection of Hong Kong's buildings over 30 years old and also mandatory inspection of windows for buildings aged 10 years and over. All these legislative measures are also backed up by very extensive public education methods, and also assistances in terms of finance and technical expertise to help Hong Kong's owners to maintain their buildings properly. But I must stress that, at the end of the day, the responsibility to maintain buildings rests with the owners. They are bringing risks not only to themselves but also to members of the public.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Saturday, January 30, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:57