Lack of details led to $166m payout to firm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 1997, 12:00am

Failure in 1985 to tell the Executive Council everything about West Kowloon reclamation plans led to a massive compensation payout to a cargo-handling company forced to relocate, legislators were told yesterday.

Director of Lands Bob Pope told the Public Accounts Committee meeting that Exco lacked full details of the West Kowloon reclamation project when asked to approve construction of the Cheung Sha Wan cargo pier in 1985.

The pier area was later affected by airport project reclamations and the cargo-handling company was granted compensation for a new pier, totalling $166 million.

'In retrospect, maybe what we'd do these days is to inform the Executive Council of the proposed reclamations, that there is a possibility that a site would be affected and the question of compensation might arise,' Mr Pope said.

Election committee member Chan Kam-lam criticised the administration for failing to advise of the potential problems and overruling the Town Planning Department.

The Auditor's report said that had an alternative site been chosen, the $166 million government payout would have been avoided.

But Mr Pope said the reclamation proposal was no certainty at the time and the main factor in approving pier construction had been the pressing need perceived for cargo-handling facilities in the area.