Another long catalogue of waste - Infrastructure

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 April, 2010, 12:00am

Government auditors have found more poorly planned and underused footbridges and subways since the last inspection three years ago - the latest discoveries including a subway not opened to the public since its completion 20 years ago.

Built for nearly HK$2 million in 1988 the subway was to provide a link to Kiu Kiang Street in Sham Shui Po from a new public housing estate, but became an illegal dumping ground and a haven for street sleepers.

The audit department also found nine other footbridges and subways it said showed bad planning and low-use rates and said many of the footbridges - including one in Hoi Fan Road in Tai Kok Tsui - were built directly above zebra crossings. Officials said some zebra crossings were built after passengers found footbridges too inconvenient to use.

Auditors criticised the Highways Department and the Transport Department for lack of co-ordination with other departments over construction of these structures.

In 1995, officials cut the Kiu Kiang Street subway's power supply to avoid paying a minimum monthly electricity bill of just HK$30.

However this crippled a water pumping system and just months later the subway was totally submerged and repairs cost more than HK$100,000.

Auditors said transport officials seldom provided the budgetary details of footbridges and walkways. Much of the cost of a HK$30 million elevated walkway connecting Tsim Sha Tsui East to Hung Hom Bay reclamation area, for example, was included in the budget of the multimillion-dollar Hung Hom Bypass in 1995. The walkway has only 138 users during the morning peak hour on Sunday and most of them are joggers.

The Transport Department said these ancillary works often came as individual elements in a package of major transport structures, and since their functions were often regarded as self-explanatory, officials did not always provide details in funding applications.