21 September 2019
Cheung Tat-tong (inset) said his panel will focus on reviewing the Housing Authority's systems and procedures. Photos: HKEJ, NowTV
Cheung Tat-tong (inset) said his panel will focus on reviewing the Housing Authority's systems and procedures. Photos: HKEJ, NowTV

Govt panel won’t pinpoint responsibilities for tainted water

A committee formed by the government to look into the water contamination issue in public housing estates said it will not pinpoint responsibilities but review current procedures and mechanisms to prevent a recurrence of the problem, Apple Daily reported on Tuesday.

Cheung Tat-tong, chairman of the review committee on the quality of fresh water supply for public housing estates, told a radio talk show that his panel will focus on the Housing Authority’s systems on quality control and works supervision, including the choice of contractors, procurement and inspection.

The committee was formed amid public outrage over findings of excessive lead levels in the water supply in Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City and other public housing projects. The problem was traced to the water pipe installations in these developments.

Cheung said there might be some loopholes in the current tendering procedure, but said contracts are awarded not only to the lowest bidder.

The contractors’ track record and techniques are also considered, he said.

Cheung asked whether the Hong Kong public would find the higher price and longer building time acceptable if only foreign building materials are used or each item is subjected to testing.

The committee is expected to hold its first meeting in early August and complete its report within three to five months.

Meanwhile, bottled water is being distributed to Kai Ching residents while new temporary water pipes have been installed in two of its six buildings, Apple Daily reported.

Direct water supply will be available by early August, some residents said, citing an advice from the estate’s administration office.

In a related development, about a hundred Kwai Luen Estate residents went to the Housing Department headquarters in Ho Man Tin to seek blood testing for all residents and the replacement of water pipes in their buildings.

Kwai Tsing District Councilor Ng Kim-sing said he is forming a victims’ alliance group to fight for the rights of residents affected by lead contamination.

Andrew Wan Siu-kin, another Kwai Tsing district councilor, said he is seeking the advice from lawyers and doctors to assist affected residents in claiming compensation from the government.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan promised to look into the cases of children who show signs of delays in their intellectual development that may have resulted from drinking contaminated water in the public housing estates.

For such cases, waiting time for medical care, which normally takes 13 to 19 months, will be waived, she said.

Translation by Charis Heung

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