Tamar work plan hit by security concerns

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2006, 12:00am

Prefabrication will now be done on site, creating 100 extra construction jobs

Security concerns, including bugging, have led to the government abandoning prefabrication work for the Tamar development that would have been done outside Hong Kong. The decision has created an additional 100 jobs, the administration says.

Director of Architectural Services Yue Chi-hang said construction would be carried out on site to avoid bugging equipment being placed in concrete walls.

He said many of the materials needed for the construction were to have been made in advance and imported, including doors, windows and glass panels.

It would be easier to replace them if bugging equipment was found in these materials, he said.

Prefabrication could have accounted for 30 per cent of the construction work. The latest estimates show that 2,700 construction workers will benefit from the $5.1 billion Tamar project.

Harbour activist Paul Zimmerman claimed the compromise of abandoning prefabrication was a vote-buying tactic that targeted the union representatives in the Legislative Council, ensuring the government a landslide victory.

Meanwhile, officials estimate the public will be able to view the four models of the proposed project by the qualified constructors at the end of the year.

Director of Administration Elizabeth Tse Man-yee said it would not be a public consultation exercise. 'The tender has stringent requirements on procedures. It is inappropriate to let the public choose which one they like. I'm sure if the public has strong opinions on the designs, the [selection] panel will hear and incorporate their views.'

Ms Tse said the government would hire an independent consultant to gauge public opinion and the selection panel would consider the views gathered. Officials met the press yesterday to explain a document they prepared for the legislature's public works subcommittee, in which they asked lawmakers to approve $5.1 billion for the plan.

The subcommittee will meet next Monday to discuss the funding request.

The document described the proposed headquarters as 'modest', despite critics saying they were 'excessive', especially the 'over-supply' of conference and reception facilities. Ms Tse said: 'All the conference facilities we proposed are necessary.'

Mr Zimmerman, of the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District group, urged legislators to examine details of the project and consider the views of society.

'Civil society has expressed many concerns and they have also come up with alternative proposals. Legislators should read through the government proposal carefully and consider views the civil society expressed.' He also questioned why the government wanted to rush the project.

Only the Civic Party and independent legislator Kwok Ka-ki oppose the funding application.