Disneyland threat as dredging halted

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2001, 12:00am

Reclamation work for the Disneyland project could be delayed after the Government suspended sand extraction from Po Toi for environmental reasons.

The contractor and the administration are both anxious to speed-up the work, which under an agreement with Disney, has to be completed by January 2003.

But with 20 months left and after six months of work, only 17 hectares, or 8.5 per cent, of the 200 hectares of land have been reclaimed.

Despite the slow progress, the Government said the target completion date of reclamation remained unchanged. It is not known if the delay will affect the opening of the theme park, scheduled for 2005.

A spokesman for the Civil Engineering Department said trial dredging was halted on June 8 after sedimentation was found at a coral site northeast of Po Toi during a weekly survey.

The sedimentation could affect the ecological balance of the site. Sand extraction work will be suspended until an investigation into the cause is completed.

The department allowed the SAR-Netherlands joint venture contractor HAM-Hong Kong Construction to dredge sand on a trial basis from west Po Toi.

The trial began on May 28 and 310,000 cubic metres of sand has been extracted. Work on the trial has now stopped.

The Government is faced with a dilemma as it is trying to secure sand for the reclamation from the mainland but has been unable to do so because of red tape and a dispute over price.

A source for the contractor has called on the SAR Government to help.

A total of 66 million cubic metres of sand fill material is required for the Disneyland project.

Of that, more than half is expected to be obtained from the mainland, with the remainder from the East Lamma Channel and west Po Toi.

It is understood that the contractor and the Government might be penalised if they cannot honour their contract with Disney on completing the reclamation work by 2003.

HAM-Hong Kong Construction declined to comment yesterday.