The CCAC has completed the handling of complaints over the noise caused by several construction projects at Lot P, Avenida do Nordeste during restricted hours, proving that although the out-of-hours works of the construction projects of the apartments for the elderly, the home-swap housing units, the temporary housing units and the flyover at the Amizade roundabout (Rotunda da Amizade) were permitted to be carried out, the competent authority has been following up the problems concerning the noise. Moreover, the recent environmental and audit reports did not mention that the noise had exceeded the noise level limit. The CCAC agrees that the construction noise has probably caused nuisance to surrounding residents, but the main purposes of the relevant works are several social facilities, road facilities, public carparks, electricity substations, etc., which involve public interests and address social needs. Also, since there are special situations where only continuous construction works under the topographical conditions and the construction works were delayed by the pandemic of novel coronavirus, the permission for out-of-hours construction was not illegal and the relevant departments did not seem to fail to supervise the matters.
Since 2021, the CCAC has received complaints from residents living near the said construction sites, who questioned some issues such as why the out-of-hours works were permitted, that the noise caused by the construction exceeded the limit provided by the law, that the relevant departments failed to regulate the matters, etc. Then the CCAC requested the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA), the Land and Urban Construction Bureau and the Public Works Bureau for various documents such as the supervision reports of the relevant construction works, the documents of the follow-up of the relevant complaints and comments, etc.
Regarding the fact that the construction of the apartments for the elderly, the home-swap housing units and the temporary housing units currently underway on Lot P have been granted out-of-hours work permits for many times, after analysis, the CCAC believed that it complies with the law of Prevention and Control of Environmental Noise. Each time the Public Works Bureau vets an application for an extension of construction hours for the apartments for the elderly, it consults the DSPA for technical opinions. The latter will also analyse the noise level assessments and decide if it complies with the requirements on night-time works. Also, prior to its approval of an application for over-time works, the Public Administration will make reference to the noise assessment information provided by the contractors. Moreover, the contractors have to submit an environmental and audit report to the relevant departments every month and hire a third-party technical unit to support the noise and air quality monitoring work.
According to the information, at the early stage, in the light of public interests, out-of-hours construction of the flyover at the Amizade roundabout (Rotunda da Amizade) was approved to be carried out between 23:00 and 06:00 for about half a year, and that of the home-swap housing units and the temporary housing units was approved to be carried out between 20:00 and 22:00 from Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays). As regards the project of the apartments for the elderly, which has still been granted an out-of-hours works permit, out-of-hours construction was approved to be carried out between 20:00 and 22:00 in the past. During the period from 2nd January to 28th December 2023, the aforesaid out-of-hours works permit even covers the hours between 10:00 and 18:00 on Sundays and public holidays (except mandatory holidays). Nevertheless, the aforesaid schedule does not seem to coincide with the normal resting time of residents.
Starting from the end of 2020, the DSPA has sent its staff to carry out investigation at the construction sites over a hundred times during restricted and non-restricted hours, including public holidays, early mornings and late at night. During the periods, the DSPA has indeed identified cases where noise levels arising from piling at the construction sites exceeded the limit or violated the law of Prevention and Control of Environmental Noise, but it has already placed them on file for follow-up actions. Regarding the complaints received, it has also responded to them by e-mail or meeting. The CCAC believes that the DSPA did not fail to perform its duties in handling the noise problems related to the aforesaid construction sites.
Moreover, regarding other complaints related to the construction sites, the CCAC has already notified the competent departments of them and such departments had attached importance to and followed up the complaints. The CCAC reiterates that the ombudsman’s functions include monitoring whether public departments act according to the law, carrying out investigation and analysis in a pragmatic way and rendering recommendations to departments so that they can rectify any administrative illegalities and improprieties. In addition, the ombudsman also makes affirmation to administrative acts which are carried out according to the law and promotes departments to improve their work in order to safeguard the interests of the citizens.