• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:25am
NewsHong Kong
INFRASTRUCTURE

Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai border crossing hits HK$8.5b snag in Legco

Multibillion-dollar crossing with Shenzhen runs into a hitch, with lawmakers refusing to boost the budget funding by more than 50 per cent

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 1:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 5:03am
 

A plan to pour another HK$8.5 billion into the construction of a northeastern border project linking to Shenzhen failed to get past lawmakers in a vote yesterday.

The Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai crossing, for which HK$16.25 billion has already been set aside by the government, is the second works project in five days to face budget problems, after legislators halted funding for RTHK's planned new headquarters.

Two more legislative bodies are set to vote on the cross-border link, with the Finance Committee having the final say.

Yesterday, members of the Legislative Council's development panel blamed the concentration of major works projects within a few years for a rise in construction costs, which was seen as the biggest reason behind the government's bid for extra funds. "Will the cost increase be lower if projects are spread out across different times?" Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing asked.

The HK$8.5 billion accounts for more than half of the budget, approved in July 2012.

Lawmakers questioned whether the project must be finished by 2018. The work began in 2003 to link the northeastern New Territories with Shenzhen. The project includes a checkpoint, a new road connecting it with Fanling Highway, a tunnel and five cross-border bridges.

Joining the chorus of doubts was the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which said the crossing might not be needed urgently.

"We supported this project. But now is there really no space to postpone it?" lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said. The DAB abstained from voting.

The administration insisted on its timetable. Hon Chi-keung, director of the Civil Engineering and Development Department, warned that delays could lead to further cost increases.

New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee agreed. Ip and engineering-sector legislator Dr Lo Wai-kwok were the only two panel members who backed the funding application, while 10 pan-democrats voted against it.

The government can press ahead with its application at the public works subcommittee and the Finance Committee.

The subcommittee, meanwhile, agreed to let the government table to the Finance Committee its request for HK$7.93 billion more to continue with controversial road works.

The Transport and Housing Bureau wants the extra cash for the Central-Wan Chai bypass and its link to the Island Eastern Corridor, bringing the revised total cost to HK$36 billion.

Official estimates of public works projects came under fire as being unreliable. The Labour Party's Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung suggested reviewing the way that costs were assessed.

Deputy secretary for development Chan Chi-ming said the government had sought more funding for only 34 of its 600 projects in the past decade.

Undersecretary for transport and housing Yau Shing-mu said the existing assessment mechanism was appropriate.

 

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rpasea
It's probably for the elites in govt to escape from Tamar w/o the need to be stuck in traffic with the peasants.
rainer
This is just another new trend in HK ... contractors offer a price below cost and then add ... add ... add and add ....
The little ( approx. 1km ) road up to Hing Keng Shek Village in Sai Kung took more than 3 years to re-surface and finish.
My wild guess is, that the contractor has now retired ....
Similar works + construction road sites can be found all over Hong Kong for years now = it seems that nothing ever gets finished any more and works are being dragged on and on for month without any actual workers in sight.
Open pockets from a rich administration and total lack of works control by the responsible department ... what else to say ?
John Adams
If that figure of only 34 out of 600 for the past decade is correct it's actually not bad (assuming it was not calculated by our 3rd-form - math-challenged FS).
It would be helpful if the govt "officials" concerned would therefore publish openly the budgets and actual costs for the other 564 projects in a simple spread sheet and also add up up the total under-budget savings over the same period. That should be a simple task if they can count the 34 over-budget projects with an accuracy of 1 in 600 ( which is < 0.2% .... much better than John Tsang's budget estimate accuracy which is somewhere around the 20% level)
rpasea
A lot of money to simply by-pass the Cross Harbour Tunnel congestion.
rpasea
Building so many projects at the same time will come back to bite us when these projects are ready for replacement. China will face the same issue with their rapid roll out of a high speed rail system. The system will all need to be replaced in a similar timeframe at its EOL.
dng18dng18
I honestly think the traffic congestion will not change after the bypass is completed.

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