SCMP Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Crackdown on illegal structures planned


The Government is planning a major crackdown on illegal building structures that have resulted in the deaths of 20 people in recent years.
Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping, Head of the Planning and Works Bureau taskforce, proposed a number of measures on Monday to combat the growth of illegal and dangerous structure.
Speaking at a Legislative Lands and Works Panel meeting, Ms Yu said that construction professionals and contractors should be properly empowered to certify the safety of works, and that buildings' owners should be required to certify that their property carry no illegal works on external walls before selling the property.
Ms Yu also suggested the Buildings Authority have the power to stop any illegal structures built on site. Advisory letters should be upgraded to statutory warning notices registrable against the title with the Land Registry. The Buildings Department should be able to recover the cost for removing any illegal structures from individual owners.
It also proposed to merge the existing Building Safety Improvement Loan Fund and Fire Safety Improvement Loan Fund and to extend the brief of the combined $700 million-fund to cover removal of any illegal structures.
There are an estimated 800,000 buildings with illegal structures in the SAR. In addition to the 20 deaths, 118 people have been injured in accidents relating to unsafe illegal structures over the past 10 years.
Ms Yu said the Buildings Department aimed to clear 900 to 1,000 external illegal buildings works by next year. Together with other programmes such as the Co-ordinated Maintenance of Buildings Scheme, the operations can clear between 150,000 and 300,000 such structures works in seven years.
''Government will not allow the problem to perpetuate,'' Mrs Yu said.
Legco plans to debate the proposals in this September.