Dragages Hong Kong – first HK projects, Kai Tak runway extension and Shek Pik reservoir

James Chan: Dragages Hong Kong, is a very familiar company name on signs at major construction projects around  Hong Kong. It’s parent company is Bouygues Construction

The company was founded in Vietnam in 1902 as Société Française Industrielle D’Extreme-Orient. It undertook its first project, the dredging and maintenance of a 2,000 kilometre canal system in the Mekong Delta.

In 1910 its name changed to Société Française D’Entreprises de Dragages et de Travaux Publics (SFEDTP) and during the next three decades, it was involved in the development of Vietnam’s land and maritime infrastructure as well as the urban modernisation of Hanoi, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh, Dalat and Tourane.

The company’s  first two projects in Hong Kong were:-

Extension of the Kai Tak Airport runway based on Dragages’ own website
Client: Public Works Department, Hong Kong Government  Years: 1955-1958

Increasing demand for air travel combined with the growth in airplane size led the Hong Kong Government to plan the reconstruction and extension of the existing Kai Tak runway. By extending the runway two kilometres into Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong was the first city in the world to attempt such an ambitious project.

Courtesy: Dragages

Courtesy: Dragages

The challenges of the project, requiring extensive dredging and more than 120 hectares of reclamation, called for a construction company with strong marine and dredging experience. Dragages (which translates as “dredging”) was such a company and having won the contract started its first Hong Kong project.

Courtesy: Dragages

Courtesy: Dragages

After only 20 months of intensive work, Dragages successfully created the foundations for an airport at Kai Tak that was to become an icon for the aviation industry and a regional aviation hub.

Kai Tak remained in operation for more than 40 years.

Dragages Hong Kong – Kai Tak extension of runway photos

Construction of Shek Pik Reservoir based on Dragages’ own website

Client: Public Works Department, Hong Kong Government Years: 1959-1963

Rapid population growth and economic development from the mid-1950s, fuelled a need for additional sources of fresh water. The Government selected the Shek Pik Valley on Lantau Island as the most suitable location to build a new reservoir and works began in 1959.

Courtesy: Dragages

Courtesy: Dragages

Located in a semi-basin, a huge dam and a network of outfall channels were constructed to funnel water from the surrounding mountains. Within five years, the ambitious project was completed and Hong Kong Island received its first Shek Pik water in late 1963.Other projects to further develop the reservoir were awarded to Dragages in 1962 and 1964.

Shek Pik Reservoir - Dragages photo 2

Courtesy: Dragages

Dragages – Shek Pik Reservoir

This article was first posted on 4th September 2014.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Kai Tak airport – 1925 to 1945, a brief history
  2. World War Two – Kai Tak airport, BAAG maps, sketches and plans
  3. Kai Tak airport – BAAG Reports 1942-1944, plus other HK landing strips
  4. ‘Chic Eather’s’ website – Early balloon/plane flights in HK, Kai Tak and much more!

plus more on Kai Tak in the Index

  1. Shek Pik Reservoir – Construction
  2. Shek Pik Reservoir – Tai O Road construction link to end of Tai O salt production


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