“ During the district visits over the past two weeks by myself and my political team, many senior citizens asked the Government for lifts or escalators to be installed to help them get around. They would also like to see more barrier-free facilities. I believe that if such facilities can be installed in all districts where necessary, such projects will benefit the people, be close to their hearts, and respond to their aspirations.”
— Remarks by Chief Executive C Y Leung at Legislative Council on 16.7.2012
Helping the elderly and physically impaired integrate into the community
The Chief Executive has pledged that “no livelihood issue is too trivial”. The Government is committed to helping the elderly and persons with disabilities to get around town in a hassle-free way.
Barrier-free facilities have been installed at walkways* for years. But with an ageing population, we need to speed up the process and make barrier-free access even more user-friendly.
That’s why we have come up with this lift installation programme to provide a “universally accessible” environment.
* Refers to footbridges, elevated walkways and subways
A new policy to better meet people’s expectations
We have listened to the public’s views and as a result will implement a new policy to provide an enhanced barrier-free environment.
From now on, when we think about what type of facilities to install at existing or new walkways, we will treat lifts and ramps equally unless the site conditions dictate one form over another. This is a change from the current practice which gives priority to ramps; and
As long as site conditions permit, we will consider installing lifts at walkways where there is already a standard ramp installed. After a lift has been installed, we will evaluate whether to keep the ramp or demolish it to make way for city improvements such as a more spacious pavement or roadside greening.
Dedicated funding source
We will seek approval of the Legislative Council Finance Committee to establish a dedicated funding source for this “universal accessibility” programme on an annual basis. We expect provision of about $100 million in the coming year, rising to over $1 billion annually in the few years following.
We will streamline internal procedures and speed up the necessary public consultation to ensure early installation of these facilities.
A city-wide commitment
A new policy coupled with dedicated funding will enable us to embark on a city-wide programme, meeting fully people’s aspirations. Compared to the existing policy of installing lifts at walkways that do not have appropriate barrier-free access on a package by package basis subject to funding availability, this is a huge improvement.
Based on our ongoing plans and requests from various districts, we have some 230 suggested project items on hand. The list of items is uploaded on the Highways Department’s website (www.hyd.gov.hk) and available at District Offices for public inspection.
Among the some 230 items, 10 have started/will start construction. Some 160 walkways with no appropriate barrier-free facilities installed are originally awaiting the completion of technical feasibility studies and funding allocation before improvement works can start. The remaining 60-plus project items are preliminary suggestions by District Councils and members of the local community.
We welcome further suggestions so that a final prioritised list can be compiled in consultation with the relevant District Councils for implementation. Once a project is confirmed to be technically feasible, we will start the design and construction work as soon as possible.
In making suggestions on where lifts should be installed for walkways, simply contact the Government 1823 Call Centre by dialling 1823, using the “Tell me@1823” mobile app, visiting the website at www.1823.gov.hk/barrierfree, or leaving a wall post on “1823 Online” Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/1823Online).
To help us identify the location, please provide the structure number (e.g. HF123, KF123 or NF123) of the walkway or specific information such as the names of the street, nearby buildings or facilities. We need your views by October 31 this year.
Joint efforts by all
In 2008, the Housing Authority (HA) also launched a programme to add lifts at external areas and at blocks without lift services in public rental housing estates. This involves a total of 70 lifts, 6 escalators and 18 footbridges in 29 estates, scheduled for completion in 2012/13. In support of the Government’s initiative, the HA will implement a rolling programme for future lift addition projects within public rental housing estates with an estimated expenditure of $250 million in the three years starting from 2013/14.
In addition, the Government has taken forward a $1.3 billion retrofitting programme to upgrade the barrier-free facilities in 3 500 Government premises and facilities plus 237 HA properties. Improvement works at 90% of these premises were completed by end-June this year and the remainder will be completed by June 2014.
Some of the district requests for enhanced barrier-free access fall within the jurisdiction of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited, the LINK and occasionally, private developments. We will appeal to these bodies to join hands with the Government to provide an enhanced barrier-free environment.
Transport and Housing Bureau
Labour and Welfare Bureau
Home Affairs Bureau