By any account, the Mong Sin Building which forms part of the Mong Ha Social Housing Estate represents an indictment on public housing construction standards within the special Chinese administrative region of Macau.
Completed last year and opened to residents in March, the building plagued by a host of construction problems, including leaking pipes, doors which have been unable to lock and waste water which has been unable to drain – poor design being behind the cause of the latter two issues and many of the problems still remaining unresolved.
Now, a report in the Macau Daily Times has shed light on yet more problems, with porcelain tiles falling off walls in places such as the ground floor lift lobby and corridors on several floors leaving concrete areas covering several square meters exposed. In addition, tiles on many other parts of the building are showing initial signs of peeling. Residents concerned about the prospect of injury from falling tiles have asked Macau’s Infrastructure Development Office to inspect the building and undertake any necessary repairs.
The Office, which has promised to inspect the entire building and draw up a long term plan for its repair, says it has instructed the contractor behind the building’s construction to remove some of the suspect tiles but blames the problems on temperature changes which it says created swelling on the tiles.
That is unlikely to impress residents, many of whom no doubt feel allowing for temperature changes in building design would not be too much to ask in a climate whereby heat level fluctuations are not uncommon.
All the less so given assertions by some local building veterans interviewed by the above newspaper that real causes more likely relate to tradesperson error or cement quality and that the only long term solution involves a complete takedown and re-pavement of all tiles.
The debacle has prompted social welfare groups to call for more attention on quality and safety of public housing amid fears these will be neglected as the government rushes to deliver on its objective of 19,000 units by the end of the year.
Public housing has significant value, but only if it is properly constructed and safe for occupants.
If the case of the Macau, the debacle associated with the Mong Sin building does not inspire confidence that this is indeed the case.