Works Bureau's response to the Ombudsman's report on flooding (5/5/1998)

5 May 1998

In response to the Ombudsman's investigation report on the flooding incidents in Mong Kok last summer, a Works Bureau (WB) spokesman said today (Tuesday):

"We have noted the Ombudsman's conclusions and recommendations. The Administration is responsible for the planning, construction and maintenance of the drainage system. In respect of the flooding in Mong Kok last summer, it is our duty to minimise and prevent flooding. We have endeavoured to do our best and have not backed away from our duties.

"The flooding was caused by exceptional rainfall, the inadequate capacity of the old stormwater drains, the presence of significant silting, blockage of roadside gullies and connection pipes by rubbish and cementitious materials illegally discharged to the drainage system.

"On-going actions have been taken by the respective works departments since last summer to improve the storm-water drainage system in the area. The desilting of the major culvert in Mong Kok and the downstream area has been substantially completed by the Drainage Services Department (DSD), and we have been closely monitoring the condition of the drainage system to ensure clear passage.

"In addition, various government departments understand their respective responsibilities for, and are stepping up action in, the enforcement against illegal disposal of cementitious materials into public drains.

"Also the DSD will co-ordinate actions by various departments at the regional level in maintaining the road drainage system, in drawing up preventive measures for rainstorm and in responding to reports on flooding. The DSD, Highways Department and Urban Services Department have stepped up drain cleansing, particularly during emergency.

"The effect of these actions was felt in the recent heavy rains, on April 26 and 27, when the flood in Mong Kok was less severe and subsided much sooner than in last summer.

"We realise that the long-term solution to the problem is to improve thoroughly the drainage system which was built some 40 years ago. A phased improvement programme has been put in place and the first contract has been awarded. The effect of this programme will be seen as works progress.

"However, it is also vitally important for residents and contractors to co-operate by helping to keep the drainage system free from blockage. Residents should dispose of garbage in a proper manner while contractors should prevent cementitious materials and soil in their sites from flowing into the system."

End/Tuesday, May 5, 1998

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