Officiating at the opening ceremony of the Building Safety Carnival at Victoria Park today (October 5), the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said the Government would work with the public to promote building safety and create a better and safer living environment.
Mrs Lam said that the Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2007 was passed by the Legislative Council in mid-2008 to establish a new minor works control system. The new system would simplify the statutory requirements and procedures for carrying out small-scale buildings works.
Under the new system, minor works would be classified into three classes according to their scale, complexity and risk to safety and would be subject to different degrees of control. The prior approval of building plans from the Buildings Department would no long be required for carrying out small-scale buildings works, such as the erection of supporting frames for air-conditioners, repair of windows and drainage pipes etc. This would cut both time and costs and would be convenient for owners.
"The proposed system will provide simplified procedures and an alternative lawful channel for carrying out minor works. The standard of minor works and thus safety of buildings will be enhanced," Mrs Lam said, "we are now preparing the corresponding subsidiary regulations with a view to submitting these regulations to the Legislative Council in the current legislative session. It is expected that the minor works control system can be implemented by the end of 2009 the soonest."
Mrs Lam continued to said that another main task of the Government was to tackle the problems of older buildings. After two stages of public consultation, the community had basically formed a consensus supporting the introduction of mandatory building inspection and mandatory window inspection, and agreed that these two schemes were instrumental to ensuring a better and safer building environment.
The Government was drafting legislation on a mandatory building inspection scheme and a mandatory window inspection scheme to require private building owners to inspect their buildings and windows regularly.
Under the proposed inspection scheme, private buildings aged 30 and above should be inspected once every 10 years, while windows of private buildings aged 10 and above should be inspected once every 5 years.
The Government would provide financial and technical assistance to owners upon the launch of the two mandatory schemes. In addition to the existing assistance provided by the Hong Kong Housing Society, Buildings Department and Urban Renewal Authority, the Hong Kong Housing Society would provide financial assistance to eligible owners in need of the first mandatory building inspection cost. Other advice and assistance in relation to building maintenance would also be provided.
Furthermore, the "Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners" was put in place earlier and administered by the Hong Kong Housing Society. Mrs Lam said that the $1-billion scheme was specially set up for the elderly owner-occupiers to repair and maintain their buildings and improve building safety.
A maximum grant of HK$40,000 was available for each eligible elderly owner-occupier within a period of five years. The grant could also be used to repay the outstanding loans with the Buildings Department, Urban Renewal Authority or Hong Kong Housing Society in relation to building maintenance. A total of 1 800 applications were received since the launch of the scheme in May, and 480 applications had been approved.
"Regular building inspection will ensure public safety, improve living environment, uphold property values and enhance the city outlook," Mrs Lam said, "the Government will continue to work closely with the Hong Kong Housing Society and Urban Renewal to assist owners of older buildings to properly manage and maintain their buildings."
The carnival, jointly organised by the Buildings Department, Hong Kong Housing Society and Urban Renewal Authority, aimed at promoting timely maintenance of buildings in order to ensure public safety. The carnival featured performances by popular singers and artistes, exhibition and game booths.
Also officiating at today's ceremony were the Director of Buildings, Mr Cheung Hau-wai, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Society, Mr Yeung Ka-sing and the Chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, Mr Barry Cheung Chun-yuen.
Ends/Sunday, October 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:17