Repairs, relief for Shek O residents

October 8, 2023

In September, when the Black Rainstorm Warning Signal was in effect, two stretches of Shek O Road near Lan Nai Wan were hit by landslides.


One of the landslides completely covered both traffic lanes, damaging a 10-metre-long wall at the roadside, while at the other location a 20-metre-long section along one lane collapsed.


The landslides and road collapse led to the complete closure of Shek O Road, the only route for vehicles in and out of Shek O, resulting in residents being cut off.


Speedy repairs

The Civil Engineering & Development Department’s Geotechnical Engineering Office and the Highways Department swiftly carried out emergency repair works to restore access.


They cleared debris, reinforced slopes with shotcrete, and placed rockfill into the collapsed section to form a supporting embankment.


Highways Department Senior Maintenance Engineer Benny Hui explained that the huge amount of rockfill material required for the repairs exceeded the stock held by the department’s contractors.


“As such, the Civil Engineering & Development Department specially operated their fill bank round the clock to supply rockfills to us,” he said. “We also mobilised other contractors to provide us with construction plants and vehicles so that we could keep our works going continuously overnight and speed up the repairs.”


It was estimated that the works would take two weeks, but with the co-operation of various Government departments, as well as contractors, single-lane traffic was restored in about two days.


As for the resumption of two-lane traffic, Mr Hui said a draft plan has been formulated and a consultant deployed to work on a detailed design.


“The Geotechnical Engineering Office suggested the installation of mini-piles and making the temporary slope less deep so as to enhance the slope’s stability,” he outlined.


The design is expected to be completed this month, and the works will commence afterwards.


Mr Hui added that the department will begin long-term protection works on the slopes in 2025.


Smooth evacuation

Following the heavy rain, the Transport & Logistics Bureau co-ordinated road repairs, while the Security Bureau was in charge of delivering supplies and evacuating over 100 Shek O residents.


Since there are no pier or berthing facilities in Shek O, it was impossible for fireboats and police launches to approach the shore to carry out the evacuations.


For the first time, the Fire Services Department deployed a pontoon, a piece of equipment typically used by firefighters to board small boats, as a solution.


“The most feasible way was to make use of the pontoon at the North Point Fireboat Station,” explained Fire Services Department Senior Station Officer Ng Chung-yin. “It allowed residents to board speedboats and then transfer to fireboats for evacuation.”  


Fire Services Department Station Officer Luk Chun-yin added that the pontoon did not require a lot of assembly.


After selecting a suitable seabed location where speedboats could get close to the beach, the firefighters checked to make sure the boats were not at risk from reefs, and secured the pontoon in about half an hour.


“The pontoon should not be affected by tide changes,” said Mr Luk. “The divers used ropes and lead weights weighing over 25kg to secure the pontoon on the seabed, and anchors were set on each side of the pontoon to enhance the stability of the pontoon.”


The multi-departmental task force consisted of members from the Home & Youth Affairs Bureau, the Transport & Logistics Bureau, the Labour & Welfare Bureau, the Security Bureau, and the Development Bureau, all of whom assisted Shek O residents in various ways to address their immediate needs.

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