SDEV and S for S speak to the media on safety in industrial buildings

Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, and Deputy Director (Specialist) of the Lands Department (LandsD), Ms Olga Lam, at a media session on safety in industrial buildings today (July 15):
Reporter: Can I ask two sets of questions? First perhaps to Mr Chan and then the second set to Mr Lai. What are the types of facilities in industrial buildings that the bureau or the government is targeting? And how widespread do you think the violation of leases such a problem is in Hong Kong? Does the official have enough manpower to check all these land lease violations? And to Mr Lai, can you talk a bit about the type of mini-storage orders that the bureau is issuing today? And do you think there are more as the FSD (Fire Services Department) is checking other mini-storage facilities across Hong Kong? Will there be more orders that you have to issue to rectify the problem? Thank you.
Secretary for Development: Well, we are targeting those inappropriate uses in industrial buildings that are attracting flows of members of the public, and in a same building there are other premises which have been issued with Licences for Manufacture and/or Storage of Dangerous Goods by the Fire Services Department. Later today we will issue a press release wherein you can find the six industrial buildings mentioned. As the first round of lease enforcement action, we are targeting these six industrial buildings and we appeal to those owners and operators to stop the misuse, because this is imposing serious fire risk threats to the members of the public.
Secretary for Security: Our first-round of inspection is targeting at those old industrial buildings. That is those built before 1973 and these buildings do not at present have water sprinklers. We have issued enforcement notices today and we expect in the coming days we will continue to issue all these enforcement notices to ask mini-storage occupiers or owners to rectify all these problems that we have identified.
Reporter:  You have six buildings that you will be targeting in the first batch, but you already knew that they are licence holders of danger goods storages, why could you not, in previous regular inspections, stop these buildings from having lease violations, such as for toddler centres, learning centres or entertainment permises, why couldn’t you detect them before this latest round of fires in last month or so, that couldn’t you stop these violation of leases from happening?
Secretary for Development: This is a very good question.  And in fact we took stock of the two fire incidents in the past month, and as we have stated before, under the leadership of the inter-departmental task force led by the Secretary for Security, we are taking short, medium and long-term measures to tackle these issues firmly.We will engage ourselves in full swing in pushing forward the various measures, and we look forward to the support of the legislature when later on we bring the necessary amendment ordinance to the Legislative Council.
Deputy Director (Specialist) of the LandsD: I want to clarify that we do not take lease enforcement just from today.  All along we have been taking lease enforcement actions.  And upon receipt of any complaint, we will inspect the property, and if there is a lease breach, we will warn the owner, and if they do not comply with our warning, we will register the warning letter. And for serious cases, we actually re-enter the premises.  Last year, we actually re-entered four premises in industrial buildings.
Reporter:  Is it now the case that only because of the two fires, that the government realises such a huge problem?  But there have been registration of dangerous goods already, why couldn’t you act earlier?
Deputy Director (Specialist) of the LandsD: The dangerous goods storages are there because the Fire Services Department issued the licences to them, and they comply with the regulation.  What we do not want is for more people from the public going inside with no knowledge of the environment in those buildings.

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

Ends/Friday, July 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:15