Legislative Councillors bombard govt for not activating Emergency Alert System during power outages, CLP urged to compensate affected residents

Edward Lau Kwok-fan

22nd June 2022 – (Hong Kong) The power cable bridge collapsed due to a fire yesterday (21st), resulting in large-scale power outages in Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun.

Legislative Council member Edward Lau Kwok-fan said on a radio program this morning (22nd) that the Emergency Alert System by the government developed with more than HK$100 million public funds was not activated during this large-scale power outage, questioning the standards of the authorities to activate the system. Lau also pointed out that he received a message from CLP at 8.30am this morning that there are still 20,000 households affected and waiting for the power to be restored, and some housing estates have arranged for electricians to be on standby. Another Legislative Councillor, Gary Zhang, also pointed out that he agreed that the government should activate the Emergency Alert System, condemning the government for not having an overall plan for large-scale power outages and reviewing the cooperation between various departments.

Tony Tse Wai-chuen, a Hong Kong surveyor and member of the Legislative Council for Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape said that the main reason for the large-scale power outages this time is because the three main cables supplying power to the three districts were all installed on the same cable bridge. The power demand exceeded the capacity of the original urban planning and infrastructure facilities, so it is necessary to add relevant cables in the later stage. It is believed that there are historical reasons for the cables to cross via open channel by means of a bridge. It is estimated that it is expensive to dig the cable through the open channel from the ground, and there may be technical and safety problems. The construction of the cable bridge requires land on both sides of the open channel. The centralised arrangement of 3 cables increased the risk of accidents. He asked CLP for compensation for the incident, such as electricity bill waivers, to compensate residents for the impact resulted.

Earlier, the Government has engaged local mobile network operators (“MNOs”) to set up an emergency alert system (“EAS”) for dissemination of time-critical public announcements and messages (“EAS messages”) via mobile networks to mobile service users during emergency situations like extreme weather, serious public safety and health incidents and more to facilitate the public to adopt contingency measures quickly. The government made use of the EAS for the first time in March this year to remind citizens not to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.