Project on track after environmental concerns delay dredging

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 12:00am

Project managers are confident Hong Kong's HK$10 billion Container Terminal 9 (CT9) project is almost back on track to meet the launch deadline of May next year for its first of six berths.

Dredging for the long-awaited terminal complex had been delayed as environmental groups fought to stop the dumping of about 6.6 million cubic metres of toxic mud 42 kilometres south of Hong Kong, in mainland waters.

But, with that dispute behind them, the project's contractors, who have a 2004 deadline for the six berths at CT9, are close to being back on track.

'We don't expect any problems with the 2004 completion date. The intermediate dates may be more of an issue, but it's still too early to tell,' CT9 project manager David Holmes said.

'In the autumn we will be in a better position to see if our target dates will come in exactly on time.'

As for whether it would come in on budget, Mr Holmes would not speculate. The CT9 project team, which is acting on behalf of the site's co-developers, has never offered an estimate of the project's full cost.

He would not say if the Port and Maritime Board's figure of HK$10 billion was a good estimate, offering a firm 'no comment'.

'The design stage of the project was very intensive. We went to enormous lengths to ensure the plan was very detailed in terms of quantity and costs,' Mr Holmes said. 'It was, and is, a well-produced and tight design. And the project's construction has followed the parameters that were on the table at the tendering stage.'

A 'very large proportion' of the dredging for the 68 hectare container terminal had been completed, he said.

The terminal site is one of three sub-projects that will require dredging before the 150 ha CT9 development is finished.

Dredging the fairway which leads up to the Tsing Yi bridge and the Rambler Channel access route as far as Terminal 8 at Kwai Chung will start later this year, according to Mr Holmes.

The area around the quays will be dredged to 15.65 metres.

'It will be deep enough for the present size of container vessels and those that are planned for the future,' he said.

The depths will be maintained by the CT9 project group until the final berth is operational. The project's 60 ha to 70 ha back-up area - for roads, container storage and consolidation facilities - has yet to be built, but will require reclamation work.

In all, 120 ha of the 150 ha site will have to be reclaimed, and 37 million cubic metres of mud will have been excavated from the seabed.

About 20 per cent of the 1,847 one-metre diameter piles, which will support its 1.9 kilometres of quay front, had been driven, Mr Holmes said.

Hutchison Port Holding's Hongkong International Terminals will operate the first berth, which should be ready close to May next year's target date.

'The contractor had some earlier problems, but he's catching up now. They have been continuously increasing their plant and equipment as the due date draws nearer, something they had planned to do,' Mr Holmes said.

'The gradual increase in equipment was something that was planned, not a bid to make up for lost time.'

The second and third of the project's six berths, to be operated eventually by Wharf Holding's Modern Terminals after it swaps its two existing berths at CT8 West with Asia Container Terminals, are scheduled to come online in March and September 2003, respectively.

The fourth berth will come online in January 2004, with the final two berths scheduled to be ready for operation by November 2004.