Contractors paid by the government to find and report footpath problems missed almost all defects, including dangerous defects, according to an investigation by Audit Commission (AC) released today.
AC conducted field inspections on 35 footpaths which were apparently inspected by Highways Department (HyD) contractors every seven days. The watchdog found 183 defects out of 189 – some 97% – had not been reported or identified by those contractors. Of those 183 defects, 14 of them (8%) were considered dangerous by AC.
AC uncovered a litany of problems with HyD’s footpath contracting system and its preferred contractors: 76% of contractors had failed to report pavement work completion on time, with an average delay of 20 days against a requirement of a two-day turnaround.
And 72% of works failed to submit a “dimension book” for accuracy checking, with delays up to 2,050 days in one case and an average delay of almost a year (353 days).
Meanwhile 67% of pavement rehabilitation projects were delayed, by an average of six months, with HyD also taking “longer than expected” to liaise with local schools and residents on the temporary traffic arrangements for footpath reconstruction works.
“Audit found that HyD had not carried out public consultation on the temporary traffic arrangement at the planning stage before seeking funding approval,” says the report.
And echoing similar problems with concrete testing for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, almost 16,000 highway and footpath inspection reports were found to be submitted without any date, while 15 roads supposed to be checked were never even inspected, according to AC.
AC also criticised Transport Department (TD) for its failure to live up to its “railing removal” promises. Proposals submitted by TD in 2019 to remove some railings to enhance walkability “had not materialised” says AC, while the commission revealed TD has no database or list of railings proposed for removal or checking.
TD and HyD have been approached for comment.