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Reducing Landslip Hazards to Squatters

It is Government’s long-standing policy to reduce the landslide risks to squatters by clearing the squatter structures of concern through Non-Development Clearance (NDC). 

The squatter structures needing clearance are identified following geotechnical studies and inspections carried out by the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) of CEDD.  For squatter structures that are under immediate and obvious landslide danger, the occupants will be evacuated and the structure cleared compulsorily.  Recommendations for compulsory clearance are impartial and are reviewed internally by senior staff prior to issue, irrespective of whether the structures of concern are on Government or private land.  The public can enquire about the details of the clearance recommendations.

Geotechnical engineers from GEO recommend clearance of those squatter structures on Government land that are especially vulnerable to landslide risk using a risk-based technical assessment.  The Lands Department (LandsD) warns the affected squatters about the landslide risk and persuade them to accept clearance.  HD offers rehousing to the squatters at risk. The Buildings Department (BD) is involved for cases on private building lots.

The NDC Programme started in 1984/85.  It initially covered the squatter areas in the Hong Kong and Kowloon urban areas.  It was later extended to cover squatter areas in the New Territories in 1988.  By 1992, 64,200 squatters who were recommended to be cleared on slope safety grounds were cleared, many of which were cleared to release land for housing developments.  Of these 64,200 squatters, 58,000 were from the Hong Kong and Kowloon urban areas.  Since 1992, about 23,900 squatters were recommended to be cleared on slope safety grounds.  However, about 11,700 squatters have chosen to stay put as of December 2012.

GEO issues warning letters to squatters who have been recommended for clearance on slope safety grounds, advising them to follow the safety advice given pending action for rehousing. Additionally, it has since 1998 been erecting warning signs in areas with undischarged clearance recommendations.  District Officers have been distributing warning leaflets, produced by GEO, in squatter areas at the start of the wet season every year.  These leaflets contain guidance on slope safety and urge squatters to evacuate immediately and seek temporary shelter at times when landslide risk is of concern.

The temporary shelters are provided by the District Offices to accommodate any members of the public in need when the Landslip Warning is issued.  The Hong Kong Observatory operates the Landslip Warning System in consultation with GEO during the wet season. 

Under the long-term Landslip Prevention and Mitigation Programme, GEO will carry out works to deal with landslide risk arising from Government man-made slopes affecting squatter structures where clearance by persuasion of the structure is not successful.  Substandard squatter slopes will be selected according to a risk-based priority ranking system that applies to all man-made slopes in Hong Kong.  Works will be carried out where access and working space permit.

Warning signs to be erected in squatter areas

Warning signs to be erected in squatter areas

Warning signs to be erected in squatter areas