Extended Hong Kong bridge seawall works just temporary, officials insist
Authorities also confident HK$36 billion boundary-crossing facility built on artificial island to be finished on schedule
An extension of reclamation works for two sections of seawall where the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge would pass was only a temporary mitigation measure and would eventually be cleared away, the government insisted.
Authorities were also optimistic the Hong Kong section of the multi-billion-dollar project, including a HK$36 billion boundary-crossing facility built on an artificial island, would be completed on schedule, despite a lawmaker’s concern about the island’s stability.
The Highways Department went into damage control last month after media reports revealed two sections of seawall on the east coast of Chek Lap Kok had moved outwards by up to 10 metres, covering an area of 5,500 square metres.
While the department confirmed such movements, it insisted the matter had been taken care of and denied there was any cover-up.
On Thursday, project manager Albert Lee Wai-bun led 20 lawmakers and the media in a three-hour site visit.
He explained the additional reclamation was in fact a “temporary rockfill platform” to strengthen the seawall. After the seawall’s movements in 2014, the platform was enlarged.
“Even after the expansion [of the platform], the area in question encompassed 9.8 hectares ... [and was] within the 10-hectare limit stipulated in the Environmental Impact Assessment,” Lee explained.
Weekly inspections were now being carried out, he added, while repair works would be performed monthly if necessary to make sure the platform stayed intact before being dismantled in the middle of this year, restoring the original seawall.
Another crucial element of the project was the border-crossing facilities that would handle quarantine, immigration and customs.
But Michael Tien Puk-sun, a member of the Legislative Council’s transport panel, said a solution had not yet been found to stop the artificial island – on which the facilities sit – from drifting away.
It was revealed in 2015 the 150-hectare island had drifted by up to seven metres.
“I was told that a team of overseas experts had proposed a few remedial solutions [to strengthen the island’s foundation] ... but with nine months left, I have reservations about the works being completed on time,” he said.
The works were slated for completion by the end of this year.