Failed tender points to madness of Kai Tak cruise terminal folly

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2008, 12:00am

The failed tender for the new cruise terminal at Kai Tak reconfirms Designing Hong Kong's position that the terminal is in the wrong place. The 50,000 square metres of commercial development rights granted have so little value on the tip of Kowloon that they can't pay for building the terminal.

Previous papers to the Legislative Council show a hyped-up expectation that the terminal would become a world-class tourism node - a hotel, shopping and dining paradise. We have pointed out from day one that this is highly unlikely, as the tip of the runway is an extremely remote location without any mass transit links.

The alternative, upgrading the piers in Tsim Sha Tsui and adding new berths in West Kowloon, is ideal and preferred by many, as it has all the high-capacity rail and road links into the city, the airport, and the mainland. It is also right next to the core tourist attractions - and even more so when the cultural venues are built.

The cost of the stubborn pursuit of the wrong location for the cruise terminal is becoming apparent with the failed bid. In addition to granting 50,000 square metres of commercial development rights and the land for the terminal, the government is now adding HK$2 billion in cash. This on top of the estimated HK$5 billion road infrastructure that is being built to allow multi-axle trucks and buses to reach the tip of the runway.

These costs will increase further given the call for a second bridge link to the tip of the Kai Tak runway. On top of this, we need to add the enormous opportunity cost of losing what the runway could have meant for the Hong Kong community, the only piece of land in the heart of the city without roads blocking access to the waterfront.

What most people don't know and will only realise when it is too late, is that the value of the runway as an oasis with residential facilities, parks, sports fields, marinas and pedestrian and bike paths along the harbour, will be completely destroyed by the two high-capacity roads that are being built on both sides of the narrow runway.

The failed tender has now put a clear price tag on the planning madness.

Paul Zimmerman, Designing Hong Kong, Causeway Bay