LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 678/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/2/96

Bills Committee on Tsing Ma Control Area Bill

Minutes of the 1st Meeting held on
Wednesday, 27 November 1996 at 8:30 am
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Member Absent :

    Dr Hon Samuel WONG, MBE, FEng, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Miss Nancy LAW
Deputy Secretary for Transport
(Transport Management)
Mr Allan CHOW
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
Dr Ernest LEE
Assistant Commissioner for Transport
(Management & Licensing)
Mr Royston GRIFFEY
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Miss Connie FUNG
Assistant Legal Adviser 3
Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)6

I. Election of Chairman

Mr Albert CHAN was elected Chairman of the Bills Committee.

II. Meeting with the Administration

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 442/96-97)

2.The Deputy Secretary for Transport briefed members on the purpose of the Tsing Ma Control Area (TMCA) Bill. She stated that in response to questions raised at the Transport Panel meeting on 8 November 1996, information on the Government Monitoring Team and management options for TMCA had been provided to the Transport Panel.

3. In response to members, the Administration made the following points :

  1. The Police would be responsible for law and order in TMCA as for other roads.
  2. Consultation with the Chinese side of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group had been made on contracting out the management, operation and maintenance of the TMCA and no objection had been raised.
  3. In the event of accidents involving casualties occurring in the area, the operator would initially play a commanding role in rescue and road management. This commanding role would be taken over by the Police upon the latter’s arrival. The Administration was devising a contingency plan for the area. It undertook to brief the Transport Panel of the contingency plan in March 1997.
  4. Applications for activities in TMCA, such as movie production, would be assessed by the operator in consultation with the Administration. Operational requirements would be set out in the contract. The contract would include a provision allowing the Administration to terminate the contract in the event that the performance of the operator was not satisfactory.
  5. Prosecution of traffic offences would be carried out by the Transport Department, and criminal offences by the Legal Department.
  6. The operator would be paid management fee in a fixed monthly lump-sum. The balance of the tolls and charges collected after payment of the management fee and remuneration for work done would be credited to the general revenue.
  7. Any change in boundaries of TMCA (clause 6) would be published in the Gazette without introduction of subsidiary legislation and the change would only be made for technical, operational or maintenance reasons. No private property would be involved. This provision also appeared in other ordinances for tunnels.
  8. Road closure exceeding 14 days in TMCA had to be authorised by the Secretary for Transport (clause 25), while closure of 14 days or less could be authorised by the Director of Highways. Road closure by the operator would mainly be made for repair or maintenance and in consultation with the Administration. The dividing line of 14 days also applied to other road ordinances.
  9. All the regulations made under clause 27 were subsidiary legislation which would be subject to the negative procedure provided by section 34 of Cap. 1.
  10. Clause 31(2) and (3) were new provisions which had no precedents in other Ordinances.

Options for management of TMCA

4. The Administration stated that according to a consultant’s study in 1994 regarding options for management of TMCA, selling the TMCA franchise would require substantial cash outlay from the franchisee as the total construction cost was about $21 billion. This scale of investment would result in a toll higher by 47% than that under the option of contracting out management, operation and maintenance of TMCA to an operator. The latter option was also preferred as TMCA contained the only access roads to the new airport.

5. Members were of the view that the Administration had not fulfilled its commitment in 1991 of selling out the franchise of Tsing Ma Bridge, the construction cost of which was $7.1 billion. They questioned the appropriateness of using $21 billion instead of $7.1 billion in assessing the option of selling the franchise. A member suggested the Administration to consider selling the franchise of Tsing Ma Bridge only while contracting out management, operation and maintenance of other parts of TMCA to an operator. The Chairman requested the Administration to provide a copy of the consultant’s report of 1994.


Contract for management, operation and maintenance of TMCA

6. As regards the contract for management, operation and maintenance of TMCA, the Administration advised that while a tender exercise had been completed, the Administration would not award the contract until the Bill was enacted.

Powers of authorised officers

7. In response to members, the Administration stated that the powers of authorised officers were set out in clause 13. The Chairman requested the Administration to provide a list of Ordinances that overrode clause 13.


Image recording

8. As regards the Chairman’s question on image recording, the Administration advised that it would only be used for tracking speeding in the area. Similar provisions also applied to other tunnels. In response to members, the Senior Assistant Law Draftsman advised that clause 20 did not specifically outlaw the misuse of these image records. The Assistant Legal Adviser added that only financial penalty was mentioned in the Bill (clause 28). The Chairman was concerned that misuse of image records might infringe the privacy of road users in TMCA. The Administration responded that there had not been any privacy problem with image recording in other tunnels. The misuse of image records could be prevented through appropriate contract provisions. They suggested to examine the issue outside the context of the Bill.


Regulation of offences in TMCA

9. As regards a member’s question on non-traffic related offences in TMCA, such as a bungy jump from one of the bridges, the Administration stated that traffic offences in TMCA would be regulated by the Road Traffic Ordinance. The Chairman suggested the Administration to provide details of provisions of relevant Ordinance(s) prohibiting such acts.


Government Monitoring Team for TMCA

10. In explaining for the establishment of the Government Monitoring Team, the Administration stated that the proposed strength of 72 staff was the minimum manpower required. There was only one directorate post which needed approval from the Establishment Subcommittee.

11. Members were generally of the view that the proposed establishment for the Government Monitoring Team, especially the number of engineers, was more than necessary, as the infrastructure should not require much repairs or maintenance initially. They requested the Administration to provide details on the establishment of monitoring teams for other Government and private tunnels and Tuen Mun Highway. The Chairman also suggested the Administration to provide information on the establishment of the professional staff required by the operator. The Administration responded that some staff of the Government Monitoring Team would work on shifts on a 24-hour basis. Monitoring a Government tunnel was more intensive than a private tunnel, as the former required auditing of toll collection and manpower provision by the operator. The typical establishment required to operate a Government tunnel was around 125 to 130 staff. They agreed to provide the information requested by members and review the manpower establishment for the Government Monitoring Team.


Legislative time-table

12. Members agreed that clause-by-clause examination of the Bill would be carried out at the next meeting. It was hoped that the Bill could resume Second Reading debate at the LegCo sitting on 8 January 1997.

13. It was noted that the LegCo Legal Service Division had proposed some amendments to the Bill, which had been agreed in principle by the Administration.

III. Date of subsequent meetings

14. It was agreed that the next meeting would be held on 9 December 1996 at 4:30 pm. The following meeting would be held at 8:30 am on 17 December 1996.

15. The meeting ended at 10:15 am.

LegCo Secretariat
9 December 1996

Last Updated on 14 October 1997