Cost overruns and delays are a blot on Hong Kong’s bridge and rail projects

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 5:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 11:14pm

Bernard Chan’s article about the long-term benefits of regional infrastructure links (“Hong Kong will come to appreciate its regional links”, February 2) was presented as something visionary coming from the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. While I appreciate that for every nice thing about a politician, one can find 10 faults, facts are facts and I would like to state some of them.

The connectivity of the Pearl River Delta’s regional links was on the Hong Kong government’s agenda before Mr Leung took office.

The high-speed Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge had gained traction before his election. Admittedly, the major construction work has taken place during his administration but, as any engineer can attest, neither project is a shining example of project management and execution. Rather, they have been fraught with cost overruns and construction delays.

I completely agree that both projects, when completed, may boost economic integration. But again, I would not go as far as patting anyone on the back for that, with regard to planning and execution. Even after the allocation of so many resources in terms of construction, and almost five years of Leung’s administration, we still do not have any clarity on joint immigration arrangements.

I am sure Mr Chan will appreciate that without seamless movement between the delta cities, any analogy with Greater Tokyo is far-fetched. I am not impressed by the performance of the government in failing to resolve this simple administrative issue regarding immigration and customs.

Hong Kong has rightfully prided itself over the last few decades on its flawless execution of projects that were far more complex. The entire region, if not the world, has looked up to our engineers.

These two projects, while completely justified for infrastructure integration of the Pearl River Delta, are a blot on our reputation of being on time and on budget when it comes to delivery of projects. While I do not know who specifically should be blamed for their less-than-perfect execution, I certainly think it is preposterous to give credit where it is not justified.

Maybe, as it is election time, Mr Chan has put on his politician’s hat.

Alok Jain, Sha Tin