Group files complaint on Central reclamation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2004, 12:00am

The Society for the Protection of the Harbour yesterday filed a formal complaint with the Legislative Council over the government's handling of the Central reclamation issue.

It also called on legislators to investigate and debate the $280 million compensation claim from contractors over the delay resulting from the society's legal challenge to the project.

The society said any effort by the government to blame it for the delay was 'untrue and unjustified as a review of the facts will show'.

In fact, it argues, the government appeared to have deliberately put itself in a legally and financially vulnerable position by prematurely, unwisely and improperly entering into the Central Reclamation works contract.

The Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau faces a $280 million compensation claim from the contractors because of the delay.

The claim, lodged by the joint venture of Leighton Contractors and China State Construction Engineering Company, is $180 million more than the amount earlier estimated by the government as the cost of delay.

Reclamation work was partly suspended between last September and March 9 this year.

During that time, the government was brought to court by the society, which claimed the $3.79 billion project breached the Harbour Protection Ordinance. Its case was rejected by the Court of First Instance on March 9.

In its letter to the Legislative Council, the society wrote: 'In the public interest, our society feels obliged to lodge the following formal complaint with the respectful request that this important public matter be thoroughly and properly investigated and debated.

'In view of the large amount of the claim which will have to be paid out of public funds, it is vital for the public to know whether the government should bear any responsibility for this huge claim.'