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LCQ2: Expediting public housing production
     Following is a question by the Hon Wilson Or and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (September 8):
     The number of public housing flats produced in the last financial year has hit a record low in 10 years. The average waiting time of general public housing applicants has been rising continuously (which was 5.8 years as at the end of March this year), and moving increasingly further away from the target of providing the first public housing flat offer to general applicants at around three years on average. On expediting public housing production, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is using the modular integrated construction (MiC) method in constructing a 12-storey building in the public housing development at Tung Chung Area 99 project as an MiC pilot project, of the relevant progress; 

(2) what criteria on the basis of which, and when, the HA will decide whether or not to adopt MiC method across the board in future; and 

(3) of the HA's other means, apart from using MiC method and components produced with off-site prefabrication technology, to speed up housing production, especially the means which can minimise the delays in works progress caused by factors such as inclement weather or manpower shortage? 


     My consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Wilson Or is as follows:
     The Government has been sparing no effort in identifying land for housing construction, and the total public housing production has been generally on the rise. The total public housing production in the five-year period from 2017-18 to 2021-22 is estimated to reach about 96 500 units, an increase of about 30 000 units as compared with the total public housing production for the previous five-year period (i.e. from 2012-13 to 2016-17). The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) will continue to adopt comprehensive planning and site-specific design to best respond to site conditions, expedite the site-specific development process and optimise the development potential of each and every public housing site, so as to increase the public housing production.
     The HA has all along been open to new technologies and measures which can enhance productivity, construction speed, building quality, safety level, and environmental performance.
     The manufacturing process involved in modular integrated construction (MiC) bears a close resemblance to the off-site prefabrication generally adopted by the HA. The merit of off-site prefabrication is that as the components are manufactured in the factory, the production process is not affected by the weather and is subject to stringent quality control in the course of the mechanised production process. In recent years, the HA has actively introduced volumetric precast components including the smaller size volumetric precast bathroom and kitchen, in addition to precast walls, precast slabs, etc. At present, the HA has adopted prefabrication for over 90 per cent of the components in certain public housing projects, and is able to build a typical floor with over 20 public housing units in six days.
     A MiC module is built up from walls, slabs and exterior walls pre-installed in the factory, together with all necessary finishes, fixtures and fittings, it is then directly transported to the site for assembly. In identifying suitable projects for MiC, the HA would consider selecting public housing sites with relatively simple site terrain, transportation network and availability of storage area nearby. At the same time, the HA also needs to consider challenges and mitigation proposals in terms of design, production, transportation, installation and long-term maintenance, etc.
     After study, the HA has selected one of the domestic blocks of the public housing development at Tung Chung Area 99 as the first pilot MiC project. The project is currently undergoing excavation and construction works for the basement carpark. Together with the construction works of the superstructure, the project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
     Nevertheless, not all HA's housing development sites can meet all the requirements of using MiC. For example, some of the sites are relatively narrow and small, with limited storage areas for components, or sites with hilly terrain, etc. In order to map out the long-term solutions regarding site constraints, the HA has selected a domestic block at Tak Tin Street, and three domestic blocks at Anderson Road Quarry Site in June this year as MiC projects. The HA will review the efficiency of MiC amidst the construction process, work out detailed analysis of the construction time, workflow and cost, and will work with the industry to explore means to optimise the application efficiency. The HA will continue to proactively select more suitable public housing sites for adopting MiC. 
    In addition, the Government has been actively adopting MiC in transitional housing projects. Among the over 15 000 transitional housing units, about 90 per cent of them are constructed using MiC.
     Moreover, in order to speed up the housing construction processes and enhance building quality, the HA has been using new technologies proactively in recent years, including:

(i) extending the application of Building Information Modelling and other innovative technologies in planning, design and construction stages, such as laser scanning and unmanned aerial systems;
(ii) utilising mobile phones and mobile applications for site supervision and streamlining of on-site communication and workflow;
(iii) using construction robotics to address labour shortage;
(iv) making use of innovative technologies to improve site safety management; and
(v) applying and actively exploring modular integrated mechanical, electrical and plumbing methods. 

     The HA will continue to adopt various methods to expedite our construction processes so as to provide as many public housing units as possible in the future.
     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Issued at HKT 17:00
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