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Strategy for Enhancement of Private Slope Safety

The Government has developed the following key initiatives for enhancement of the safety of private slopes:

• Public education to promote slope maintenance
• Assistance and advisory services to slope owners
• Safety screening of private slopess
• React to known hazards on private slopes

Public education to promote slope maintenance

Lack of maintenance is a major contributory factor to many landslides in Hong Kong. Poorly maintained slopes, even those that were originally designed and constructed to adequate engineering standards, can deteriorate to the point where they may fail, endangering life and property. Private slopes are the responsibility of their respective owners. The Code of Practice on Building Management and Maintenance produced under of the Building Management Ordinance stipulates that any slope or retaining wall from which an owner is responsible shall be maintained in a state of good condition in accordance with Geoguide 5 – Guide to Slope Maintenance published by the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO).

Voluntary slope maintenance by private owners is the Government’s preferred option to enhance private slope safety. The GEO has on-going community education programmes to remind private owners of the importance of slope maintenance in preventing landslides. The sustained public education programmes have proved to be effective as reflected by the improved maintenance conditions of private slopes.


Assistance and Advisory Services to Slope Owners

In addition to the publicity activities, the GEO has set up a Community Advisory Unit (CAU) to assist and advise private slope owners on how to proceed with slope maintenance, investigation and improvement or upgrading works so as to help them maintain their slopes. The principal functions of the CAU include providing advisory services on slope maintenance and holding slope safety talks, seminars and meet-the-public sessions. The GEO has also produced a variety of guides, booklets and leaflets which provide useful information for owners to discharge their slope maintenance responsibilities. A computerized Slope Information System (SIS) has been set up to house the Catalogue of Slopes, which contains useful information of the 60,000 odd sizeable man-made slopes in Hong Kong. The internet version of SIS is available in the HKSS website to provide easy and free public access. For private owners in need, financial assistance is available through the “Integrated Building Maintenance Assistance Scheme” which covers slope maintenance and upgrading works.


Safety Screening of Private Slopes

Under the Buildings Ordinance, a Dangerous Hillside (DH) Order may be served on the responsible slope owners requiring them to investigate and carry out necessary slope works to rectify the dangerous or liable to become dangerous situation. The GEO performs a regulatory function of safety-screening of selected private slopes to confirm whether prima facie evidence can be established for serving a DH Order as some owners may not fulfill their obligation to maintain their slopes properly.

If owners do not carry out the investigation of their slopes by the date specified in the DH Order, the Buildings Department (BD) may carry out the investigation and any subsequent works as default works and will seek to recover the costs plus supervision charges from the owners. The Building Authority is also legally empowered to prosecute any person who fails to comply with the DH Order.


React to Known Hazards on Private Slopes

The Government will react to known hazards on all private slopes. For private slopes which fail or exhibit significant signs of distress, BD, with the advice of GEO, may carry out emergency works to remove the imminent danger and recover the costs from owners. BD may subsequently issue DHO to require owners to deal with the long-term stability of the repaired private slopes.


Summary

We consider that voluntary compliance of slope maintenance by owners is the best way to enhance the safety of private slopes. We will therefore continue to sustain our efforts on public education to promote slope maintenance and provision of assistance and advisory services to help owners maintain their slopes. This strategy has proved to be effective as reflected by the fact that the maintenance conditions of private slopes have been improved for the last two decades.