Monday, 13 July 2015

Another Blame Game Begins

Residents in five housing estates are collecting water from other sources
Over the weekend it was discovered five public housing estates in Kowloon City, Kwai Chung, Sham Shui Po, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun have excessive lead in the water samples and it is believed this came from the pipes.

The levels of lead were found to have exceeded standards set by the World Health Organization.

The Hong Kong government was quick to reveal licensed plumber Lam Tak-sum as being responsible for installing the pipes, saying it was the media that demanded to know.

This is a complete 180-degree turn from the government refusing to divulge how much it had spent on the campaign push for residents to accept the political reform package that failed last month in the Legislative Council.

Licensed plumber Lam Tak-sum surrounded by the media
But back to the story. As expected, the media swarmed the wheelchair-bound Lam today and while he admitted to taking some responsibility for the pipes connecting the water mains to the housing blocks' water supplies, not all of the blame should be shifted on him. The pipes were made from pre-cast material, so how could he know what material was in it?

The government says he should have known, and that Lam was also responsible for the pipes connecting the water tanks and households.

But who paid for the pre-cast material? Why didn't someone in the Water Supplies Department check to see if the pipes were the correct ones to be used?

But more importantly, why is the government not investigating the incident properly before assigning blame?

In the meantime, residents in these housing estates are terrified of the possible health impacts, as practically all of them use the water for cooking, bathing and drinking (boiled water).

At first the government gave out bottled water to residents, but this is not feasible in the long term. And Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is suggesting that all the fresh water pipes would have to be replaced, which would impact thousands of households; and yet there should be minimal disruption for these families.

Uh yeah.

This is a major infrastructure problem in existing buildings and you are asking that there be as little disruption as possible?

Obviously Cheung has not undergone a renovation in his home before, or understands the complexity of the problem at hand.

People are going to be inconvenienced, but for how long is the main issue.

In the meantime, the way this government is handling the situation is far from ideal. It is not taking leadership on the issue and would rather blame someone for it instead.

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