LCQ8: Regulation of private building works

Following is a question by Ir Dr Hon Raymond Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (March 3):


On January 29, this year, a 55 years old six-storey tenement building at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road suddenly collapsed while renovation works were being carried out in a shop on the ground floor of the building.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the date on which the Buildings Department last inspected the aforesaid building, the parts of the building inspected, the inspection result, the reasons for not listing the building as a dangerous building after inspection, and whether the professional structural engineer responsible for the inspection was present and participated in the inspection work; and

(b) whether the Government will focus on the aforesaid incident and further enhance regulation of the procedure for carrying out renovation works in private buildings, so as to prevent the occurrence of similar tragedies; if so, of the details?



As regards the causes of the building collapse at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road, the Buildings Department (BD) is conducting investigation in three directions: first, to study the record of maintenance, addition and alteration works of the building concerned; second, to examine the evidence gathered at the scene and analyse specimen collected; and third, to obtain information from eyewitnesses.  The BD hopes to complete the investigation work within the coming few weeks.  

The reply to various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The BD received a report of concrete spalling from the exterior wall of the building in question on November 16, 2009.  In accordance with the established arrangement, a building surveyor responsible for the district concerned was assigned to inspect the aforesaid premises twice on November 18 and December 30, 2009 respectively.  The staff mainly inspected the exterior and communal parts of the building.  During the inspection conducted on November 18, staff of the BD also entered the shop on the ground floor of the building for inspection.  During both inspections, as described in the report, there was loose/defective reinforced concrete at the exterior wall of the building.  However, no imminent danger or unauthorised building works in progress was found in the building.  

The BD accordingly issued a repair order to the owner of the building on January 13, 2010, requiring the repair of the spalling reinforced concrete at the exterior wall of the building to be completed by July 2010.  

(b) According to the Buildings Ordinance (Cap 123), with the exception of exempted building works which do not involve building structure, all private building works require the prior approval and consent of the Building Authority and the appointment of authorised persons, registered structural engineers and/or registered geotechnical engineers to design, coordinate and supervise the works as well as registered contractors to carry out the works.  Persons who infringe such requirements will be subject to disciplinary actions (in respect of registered professionals/contractors) and/or prosecution.

As mentioned in the first part of the reply, the causes of the building collapse at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road are still under investigation.  At this stage it is not possible to confirm whether it was related to the damage to the building structure during the renovation works conducted by contractor or workers.

Ends/Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:01