Letter to Editor

Dear Editor,

I refer to the articles from SCMP about the collapse of a tenement in To Kwa Wan in January

2010. I was saddened but not at all surprised that such an accident was happened in Hong

Kong.

Tenants living in old buildings usually pay low rent and owners do not feel the need to maintain

their properties properly. As a result, staircases are often blocked by junk, there is improper fire

safety equipment, and many buildings are run-down. Yet no one cares.

After this, there are too many unauthorized building works and illegal rooftop houses in the old

buildings in To Kwa Wan and some other old districts. As the buildings have been heavily

altered with the additional of unapproved partitions and drainage systems, the structural

damage took place triggering the collapse.

To avoid this kind of accident, I think the government should setup a rule to ensure that the

buildings which over 30 years must undergo an annual safety inspection every year. And the

report should be sent to government for reference. Any structural changes that are made to a

flat must be first given the green light by the Buildings Department before any work can take

place. Repair order will be issued to any loose, cracked concrete and finishes on walls, and

follow-up once every two weeks. I suggested the department cancel the practice of sending flat

owners a non-binding advisory letter before a statutory repair order, as the letter was usually

ignored. A surveyor and a structural engineer should be present in preliminary investigations of

potentially serious building complaints, instead of relying on a surveyor alone, as happened in

To Kwa Wan.

For To Kwa Wan building collapsed case, the government can have a consultation to collect

advices and needs from affected residents.

In my opinion, I think the government should resume the titles of the collapsed buildings for

the Urban Renewal Development...
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