Shogun's link with Hong Kong spans 45 years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 November, 1997, 12:00am

Scott Wilson, formerly Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick before a name change in the summer, has worked for every Works Bureau department since the firm set up shop in Hong Kong 45 years ago.

In that time, says chairman Ron Rakusen, the firm has been involved in some of the SAR's largest projects and has helped train many engineers, leading to its nickname, 'shogun' - or training house, in Cantonese.

'Lots of our alumni have or are working in Works Bureau departments. James Blake, the former secretary for works, is an alumni,' Mr Rakusen said.

'We have worked for all the works departments - architectural, civil engineering, drainage, electrical and mechanical, highways, territory development and water supplies,' he said.

This strong relationship started in 1952 when Scott Wilson was appointed by the Public Works Department (PWD) to study future airport development in Hong Kong.

'The study considered improving Kai Tak airport when PWD at the time were looking at a regional airport. Scott Wilson said it should be international,' Mr Rakusen said.

'We investigated several locations, including Chek Lap Kok, as sites for the new airport, but we recommended extending the runway at Kai Tak.' Further assignments followed, including designs for the Plover Cove reservoir, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in 1972, which became Hong Kong's first privatised build- own-operate project, and five out of Hong Kong's nine container ports.

Development of the new town programme led Scott Wilson to expand with it, winning a deal to plan the new community in Tuen Mun.

'We have been involved with Tuen Mun since 1973 and we are still working on the original agreement,' Mr Rakusen said.

The work in Tuen Mun and the changing nature of government infrastructure projects to include more environmental assessments allowed the firm to grow beyond its traditional transport capabilities to become a multi-disciplinary consultancy.

'We have a capability in all disciplines, especially on softer scientific-based work, including landfills, environment and ecological-type studies, landscaping, forestry and tourism,' Mr Rakusen said.

He believes the demand for this type of work will increase when new environment impact assessment regulations come into force in the coming months.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's housing target of 85,000 new homes a year would also place great demands on, and offer huge opportunities to, the construction industry, Mr Rakusen said.

But he warned that the housing boom could not be carried out without a commensurate increase in infrastructure spending for new highways, drainage and water supply systems. Proper planning was essential.