Government may build cruise terminal if retendering fails

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 September, 2008, 12:00am

The government might abandon tendering, and build the Kai Tak cruise terminal by itself, to accelerate the project, a minister said yesterday.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the administration was bracing itself to take on the construction in case the retendering failed to find acceptable bids. 'If businessmen still think the new tender conditions are not profitable, an option is that we will be responsible for the construction of the whole terminal, and then grant an ordinary contract for the operator,' Mrs Lau said in a radio interview.

'We would then have to rethink the operation period and other contract terms.'

She stressed the need to start the project as soon as possible to catch up with market needs. Mrs Lau will take the issue to lawmakers for financing when the new session of the legislature starts.

In July, the government said that the tender for the terminal had failed to attract acceptable bids.

The two bids received were rejected for going outside the tendering requirements.

Under the original proposal, the successful tenderer would design, build, operate, manage and maintain the terminal for 50 years, starting with the first berth in 2012.

The government then indicated that it would undertake capital works including site formation, immigration, security and inspection facilities, to make the tender more attractive, at a cost to the taxpayer of HK$2 billion.

'With costs lowered for the operators, we will think again whether we will still grant the operation contract for a 50-year term,' Mrs Lau said yesterday.

Travel Industry Council chairman Ronnie Ho Pak-ting supported the government taking the project into its own hands. 'This is the simplest, fastest way to get things started if the government can shoulder the capital costs,' he said.

'We must no longer delay the project.'