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  • Kai Tak barge homes idea floated
        Date:2018-08-30 

    A group of developers and real estate agents has suggested that the government build container homes on barges near the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal for public housing applicants awaiting allocation.

    The recommendation comes less than a month before the Task Force on Land Supply's public consultation ends on September 26.

    The Real Property Federation, a group of developers, real estate agents and professionals - such as architects, surveyors and engineers - made six suggestions on land supply.

    Its favorite choice was constructing housing on barges, which is not among the 18 options provided by the task force.

    The short-term measure proposes that the government construct a "floating city" on barges and place about 400 container homes on each barge. With five levels, 80 container homes would be built on each level.

    Each barge would allow 1,600 to 2,000 residents who have applied for public housing and are awaiting allocation.

    The cost of each barge will be HK$140 million, which includes the construction of a 120-meter-long barge for HK$60 million and decorating the containers and installing facilities, which will be HK$80 million.

    Victor Sung Shu-hung, a vice president at the federation, said the barge would not be regulated by the Buildings Ordinance.

    And typhoons would not be a threat since the vessel will be at the northern part of Kai Tak, which is considered a shelter for boats.

    The last Storm Signal No. 10 was hoisted was last year for Severe Typhoon Hato. During that period, the highest 10-minute mean wind speed at Kai Tak was 84 kilometers an hour.

    "Typhoons and giant waves should not cause troubles to the barge as large ships sail as usual in rough seas. Furthermore, the barges will be anchored and will be placed at an inner harbor so the seas will be less rough," Sung said.

    Woo Wai-man, the federation's president, suggested that the government either buy old cargo ships or build them in the mainland, which would lower the costs. To supply power to the homes, Woo said the ships can receive electricity supply from Kai Tak or solar energy boards can be installed.

    "We believe the most urgent issue is not seeking land, but seeking housing. This option consumes no land, and will supply a lot of flats very quickly," Woo said. Woo added the ships can be used as youth hostels after all residents move into public housing.

    But the suggestion of a "floating city" was quickly dispelled by the Marine Department. It said no person "shall use a vessel as a dwelling vessel in Hong Kong waters unless it is licensed according to the law."

    At the end of last year, there were only four licensed dwelling vessels in Hong Kong. "No new license for dwelling vessel would be issued," a Marine Department spokeswoman said.

    Legislator Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who is also a member of the Housing Authority, said the idea is impractical and weird.

    "It won't be fun to live on the fifth level when there are waves, and people living on land can't get accustomed to it, as they [tend to] get seasick even on ships as stable as ocean liners without feeling any shakes," Wan said.

    He suspected that the idea was a camouflage for them to justify not retaking the Fanling golf course.

    The other two short-term suggestions put forward by the federation was revitalizing industrial buildings as transitional housing, and increasing the plot ratio of public housing from five to eight, which permits more flats in each building.

    Middle-term measures included public-private partnership in developing New Territories farmland owned by developers. The federation also suggested land reclamation as a long-term measure, but is against using the Fanling Golf Course for housing.



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