“Safe Slopes Save Lives” in Hong Kong

When you start walking around Hong Kong, you might notice that every retaining wall and slope has a sign on it, listing a registration number:

Wall registration plaque

Slope registration plaque

To me it seemed really odd: why would anyone care about a slope?

The reason is the environment that is Hong Kong: dense urban development on steep hillsides and torrential summer rainfall. Put the two other and you get landslips: in the 50 years from the end of World War II, they caused more than 470 people deaths.

To reduce the risk in 1977 the government established an entire government department to stabilise slopes: the Geotechnical Engineering Office.

The signs date from a four year project started in 1998 to catalogue all man-made slopes and retaining walls in Hong Kong, the final number was 60,000! Despite this, during my travels I still saw many examples of repair work being carried out to slopes:

MTR sign: "Slope Improvement Works along East Rail Line"

Slope improvement works beside the East Rail Line at Ho Man Tin

"Safe Slopes Save Lives": hoardings surrounding slope improvement works on Cheung Chau Island

The side effect of the slope improvements is that the majority of urban hillsides are covered in concrete, with drainage channels running along them to take away water, and access walkways part way up.

Slope above Kowloon Tsai Park, looking down towards Kai Tak Runway 13

The entire western side of Tsing Yi island has been cut away to make room for a freeway, as seen from the Tsing Ma bridge.

Eastbound on the Tsing Ma bridge

You can see the registration sign on this slope:

Travelling from Stanley towards Central on Wong Nai Chung Gap Road

With stairways leading upwards, allowi9ng for maintenance work to be carried out on the slope:

Staircase for slope maintenance in the Kowloon Hills

Feral monkeys in the Kowloon Hills, sitting on top of a slope access stairway

The monkeys are a story for another time…

Further reading

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4 Responses to “Safe Slopes Save Lives” in Hong Kong

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  3. Eva says:

    This slope registration is absolutely interesting practice. I noticed about these plates as well, when I visited HK recently. Thanks for your information!

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