MTR delays: government like 'child in front of giant': lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 2:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 2:54am

Documents concerning the fate of proposed rail lines will be withheld while the authorities work to dispel the public's concerns over delays to five ongoing MTR projects, lawmakers have heard.

The documents were on schedule for release in the middle of the year, undersecretary for transport and housing Yau Shing-mu said yesterday.

"But [the government] thinks we should first address concerns over the delayed projects," Yau told the Legislative Council.

Proposed projects up in the air include a line parallel to the Island Line, a link between the Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports, and one serving planned new towns in the northeastern New Territories. Legco would be briefed on these projects before the end of September, two months later than scheduled, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, of the New People's Party, said.

The five ongoing projects that are facing delays are the South Island Line, the Kwun Tong Line extension, the high-speed cross-border railway, the Sha Tin-Central link and the West Island Line.

Yau said the government would review and improve its monitoring of construction.

Facing legislators yesterday, MTR Corp chief executive Jay Walder again apologised to the public for the delays. He said the six-month delays to the South Island Line and Kwun Tong Line extension were current estimates, but the projects might be able to recover some of the lost time. However, further challenges could not be ruled out. A clearer picture would emerge by the end of the year, he said.

Lawmakers criticised the Highways Department for its weak monitoring.

"The government is like a child in front of a giant," said Wu Chi-wai, of the Democratic Party. He had signed a petition with 22 other lawmakers and would present it to Legco next Wednesday, urging it to investigate the delays.