Date
17 January 2019
A file picture (inset) shows the interior of the Tung Wah Museum. After a preliminary inspection of the museum, a consultant engineer has confirmed that there is no immediate concern regarding its structural safety. Photo: HKEJ
A file picture (inset) shows the interior of the Tung Wah Museum. After a preliminary inspection of the museum, a consultant engineer has confirmed that there is no immediate concern regarding its structural safety. Photo: HKEJ

Hospital works project halted after subsidence at adjacent site

Kwong Wah Hospital (KWH) in Mong Kok has seen some redevelopment works put under suspension as engineers have uncovered ground subsidence problem on an adjacent site that houses another building.

The construction work will not resume until the subsidence issue is investigated and authorities are convinced that the KWH structures will be safe, according to an announcement by the Hospital Authority (HA) on Monday.

The authority said the initial situation assessment suggested the works may be subject to a three-month delay due to the incident.

Work will begin only when it is deemed that the problem no longer exists, a move aimed at ensuring the structural safety of the new construction, which contains a combination of Chinese and Western architectural features, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The HA, meanwhile, stressed that other buildings in KWH and residential buildings in the neighborhood have not been affected by the incident, and that the hospital’s patient services have remained normal all along.

The first stage of the KWH redevelopment project began in mid-2016, including the demolition of the South Wing of the Main Hospital Building, the Nurses Quarters and the Administration Building.

A new complex will be built on the original site, while The Tung Wah Museum located within the range of the construction site will be retained.

According to the HA, basement excavation works that commenced in February this year have been carried out as usual and all monitoring readings have stayed within acceptable limits.

However, Vibro (H.K.), the contractor responsible for the works, found on the morning of Nov. 26 that there was groundwater in the lift pit excavation area of the construction site.

The problem was detected as monitoring data around the museum indicated abnormal readings in groundwater levels and settlement.

As such, all excavation works were suspended immediately and urgent remedial measures were implemented before the groundwater level returns to normal. The settlement, meanwhile, has been under control without further deterioration.

Since the government sets the maximum acceptable subsidence for a monument at 10 millimeters, much more stringent than the 25 millimeters set for general buildings, it could be reasonably inferred that the museum had suffered a subsidence that was 10 millimeters or more, which led to construction suspension as a result.

After a preliminary inspection of the museum, a consultant engineer has confirmed that there is no immediate concern regarding its structural safety.

The contractor has appointed an independent geotechnical expert to assess the geological conditions and identify the possible causes of groundwater level changes and subsidence and come up remedial measures before works resume.

A monument preservation expert was also appointed to inspect the condition of the museum and provide an assessment report.

The HA has reported the incident to related government departments, including the Buildings Department, the Antiquities and Monuments Office and the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, which owns KWH and four other hospitals in the city.

A source told HKEJ that fixing the subsidence problem will not result in extra financial burden for the government on the project, which is estimated to cost HK$23 billion as per the contract.

Suspension of the redevelopment works will not necessarily delay the completion of the construction of the new building, the source said.

As per the previous schedule, the new building is expected to be completed in the 2021/22 fiscal year.

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TL/JC/RC

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