英文

Editorial:Demolition of Pavilia Farm III towers is highly unusual and must be investigated

【明報專訊】Two private residential blocks under construction atop Tai Wai MTR Station have been found to have failed concrete strength tests. The developer has decided to tear down the blocks for reconstruction, promised to compensate hundreds of buyers and apologised to them.

Major structural problems in buildings under construction are extremely rare in Hong Kong. The last time a building had to be demolished happened between the late 1990s and the early 21st century, when the short piling scandal was exposed at the Yuen Chau Kok Home Ownership Scheme site, Sha Tin. The contractor involved cut corners and left the Housing Department in the dark. The scandal came to light only after the blocks were completed and surveyed. Eventually, two blocks involving short piling had to be demolished. The demolition and rebuilding of blocks of flats under construction on private housing estates have not happened before. Hong Kong people are fond of property purchases, with some favouring private housing and some subsidised housing. That two towers at The Pavilia Farm III, a new property project in Tai Wai, will be demolished and rebuilt has come as a shock. Buyers who have been affected have inevitably been taken aback, while the general public is also very concerned with that.

The Pavilia Farm is a construction project atop an MTR station. Handled by New World Development, it consists of three phases and a total of seven residential blocks. Thanks to its attractive geographic location, the project has attracted large numbers of registrations of intent since it became available for sale amid the pandemic last October. It even set a new record for a new property project, as more than 3,000 units, accounting for around 98% of the entire project, have been sold up to now. In the two blocks that have to be demolished and reconstructed, more than ten storeys have already been built. According to New World Development, the day on which buyers can move in is expected to be delayed by around nine months, and 846 households will be affected. Hong Kong people love buying properties. The property developer will allow buyers who have forked out for the flats but have suffered such an unexpected setback to choose to cancel the transaction, and all affected buyers will be reasonably compensated and subsidised. These are the right things to do. The government should closely monitor the latest developments and ensure that consumers' rights are adequately protected. At the same time, it has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incident and get to the root of the incident.

In mid-June, New World Development received notification from the contractor about some problematic data concerning the concrete used in part of the wall structure in one of the blocks. Further inspection revealed that the strength of some concrete samples from the podium walls in another building in the same phase did not meet the standards either. On June 18, the Buildings Department received a notice from a registered structural engineer of the Pavilia Farm project and learned of the issue. The registered structural engineer assessed the two buildings as safe. However, having confirmed the test results comprehensively, New World Development notified the MTR and the Buildings Department on July 6 to propose the demolition and reconstruction of the two blocks on its own initiative. Two days later, New World Development announced the demolition and compensation, emphasising that it had charged the contractor with a thorough investigation of the incident and had immediately replaced the site supervision team. The MTR and the Buildings Department have also responded to the incident separately and requested New World Development to submit a detailed investigation report.

The incident has attracted widespread public attention. The developer and the government should increase transparency in information dissemination and mopping-up by, for example, making public the concrete test reports, explaining in detail the cause of the incident and informing the public of how to avoid similar problems in the future.

明報社評 2021.07.09:新樓拆建事不尋常 徹查肇因檢討處理

大圍站上蓋項目兩幢興建中的私樓,混凝土強度未符要求,發展商決定拆卸重建,並向數百名買家賠償致歉。

在建樓宇出現重大結構問題,在香港非常罕見,對上一次要「拆樓」,要數1990年代末至21世紀初的沙田圓洲角居屋短樁醜聞,涉案承建商偷工減料,房署蒙在鼓裏,直到樓宇竣工驗樓,始發現問題,最終要將兩幢短樁樓拆卸,至於私人屋苑樓宇興建中途要「推倒重來」,更是前所未有。港人愛置業,私樓和資助房屋各有捧場客,這次大圍新樓盤柏傲莊三期兩座樓宇要拆卸重建,事出突然,受影響買家固然錯愕,普羅大眾亦相當關心。

柏傲莊由新世界負責的港鐵站上蓋項目,分三期發展,合共7座,由於地理位置吸引,去年10月「疫」市開售以來,入票問津者眾,創下「新盤票王」紀錄,至今累計售出超過3000多個單位,佔整個發展項目約98%。今次需要拆卸重建的兩座樓宇,已興建了十多層,新世界表示,預計入伙日期將延遲約9個月,受影響的住戶有846戶。港人愛置業,市民拿出巨款買樓,卻遇上意料之外的阻滯,發展商容許買家選擇取消成交,以及向所有受影響買家,作出合理補償及津貼,乃是應有之義。政府應密切留意事態進展,確保消費者權益得到妥善保障,同時更有責任徹查事件,了解出事原因。

6月中,新世界收到承建商通知,其中一座樓宇部分牆身結構的混凝土檢測數據有問題,進一步檢查發現,同期另一座樓宇的牆身底座部分混凝土強度亦不達標。6月18日,屋宇署收到柏傲莊項目的註冊結構工程師通知,得悉不達標一事。註冊結構工程師評估後認為,兩座樓宇結構仍然安全,不過新世界確認全面測試結果後,於7月6日通知港鐵及屋宇署,主動提出拆卸重建。兩天後,新世界宣布拆樓補償,強調已責成承建商徹查事件,並即時撤換地盤監督團隊,至於港鐵及屋宇署亦分別作出回應,要求新世界提交詳細調查報告。

這次拆樓重建事件,廣受社會關注,發展商和政府在信息發放及善後處理方面,應該提高透明度,包括對外披露石屎測試報告,詳細交代事故原因,以及日後如何避免再有類似問題出現。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

cut corners:to do sth in the easiest, cheapest or quickest way, often by ignoring rules or leaving sth out

be taken aback (by sb/sth):to be shocked or surprised by sb/sth

root:the main cause of sth, such as a problem or difficult situation

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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