Independent experts appointed to review Buildings Department report on building safety procedures and practices

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, has appointed two independent experts to review the report prepared by the Buildings Department (BD) on its enforcement procedures and practices in relation to building safety. The report has been prepared in response to recommendations made by the Coroner in August 2011 with respect to the collapse of a building at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road in January 2010.

The BD established a dedicated working group to study the views of the Coroner's Court after receiving its recommendations on August 16, 2011. In addition to considering the recommendations, the working group, which consists of experienced professional staff from the two professional grades of the Department, i.e. building surveyor and structural engineer, has also reviewed the BD's current work procedures and practices on enforcement action relating to building safety. The issues examined include the procedures, methods and devices adopted in building inspection, as well as the factors considered by the Department when issuing statutory orders and notices. The BD has now submitted the report prepared by the working group to the Development Bureau (DEVB).

"We attach great importance to building safety. Immediately following the collapse of a building at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road in January 2010, the BD began territory-wide inspections of some 4,000 buildings aged 50 years or above to ascertain the safety of these buildings, and the inspections were completed in February 2010. This review conducted by BD aims to help the Department further improve the relevant procedures in relation to building safety," a spokesman for the DEVB said.

The Secretary for Development has appointed two independent experts to review the report prepared by the BD. The two experts appointed are Professor Ko Jan-ming, former Vice President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (the HKPU), and Mr Daniel Lam Chun, former President of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors. Professor Ko is internationally renowned for his research on structural health monitoring systems and is currently the Emeritus Professor (Structural Engineering) at the HKPU. Mr Lam has rich experience in building surveying and is currently a non-executive director of the Urban Renewal Authority.

"With the knowledge and experience of these two experts in the fields of structural engineering and building surveying to help us review the enforcement procedures and practices in relation to building safety, the Government will be able to further enhance the effectiveness of its enforcement work relating to building safety. It is expected that the whole exercise will be completed in around three months' time, after which the DEVB will release the review findings to the public and the relevant committees of the Legislative Council," the spokesman added.

The spokesman emphasised that while the Government will strive to improve measures to enhance building safety, it is the owners' basic responsibility to maintain the safety of their own properties. Hence, the owners should regularly inspect and repair their buildings to ensure the buildings remain in a safe and good condition.

Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:46