Push continues for homes above port

Local | Staff reporter 19 Jan 2018

Building housing estates on top of Kwai Chung container port would not disrupt logistic operations provided it is done in phases spanning years, says Joseph Chow Ming-kuen, a former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers.

Chow wants podiums at the port but made it clear he would not want to see such a project at the 280-hectare terminal attempted at one time.

"I foresee that the development will take years - 15 to 20 years - and be divided into 15 to 20 phases," he said on a radio program yesterday. "Each phase will be almost the size of Mei Foo Sun Chuen or City Plaza."

Chow made the proposal because government planners are being pressed to find land for housing. But his idea is seen as costly and difficult.

But Chow said he is not discouraged and "I don't think the Land Supply Task Force has all the relevant information and facts."

What he proposes, Chow stressed, is what is called a transfer structure above container storage areas and erecting high-rise buildings on top.

"This is a very common practice in Hong Kong with transfer slabs supporting high-rise buildings," he said. "I do not think it could be more costly than any other project."

And he does not propose covering the entire container port.

"I'm just proposing to cover container storage yards behind the cranes," he said. "So I do not see why it should be difficult technically."

On whether people would be willing to live atop a container port with emissions from ships and much noise, Chow said it would depend on the severity of the housing problem.

Instead of having bedrooms and living rooms facing a busy quay, he suggested, it could be kitchens and bathrooms.

On commuting, Chow said a light rail system could connect residents to Kwai Tsing MTR station.

Former secretary for development Mak Chai-kwong, honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong's department of civil engineering, agreed such a development was feasible.

"The above-podium construction and the under-podium container operation could operate in parallel," he said. And while there was an alternative proposal to relocate the container port altogether, Mak said he preferred constructing houses on top of the existing spread, which was feasible and would be less costly.

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