LegCo Paper No. PWSC 39/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/2/2
Public Works Subcommittee
Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting
held on Wednesday, 8 January 1997
at 10:45 am in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP (Chairman)
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Members absent :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Public officers attending :
- Mrs Carrie LAM
- Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)
- Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
- Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
- Mr H S KWONG, JP
- Secretary for Works
- Mr Rob LAW, JP
- Director of Environmental Protection
- Mr James HERD
- Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)
- Mr S S LEE, JP
- Director of Territory Development
- Mr M S HU, JP
- Director of Water Supplies
- Mr John COLLIER, JP
- Director of Drainage Services
- Mr Kenneth CHAN, JP
- Director of Architectural Services
- Mrs Anna LEE
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (6)
- Mr H F LEE
- Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support)
- Mr Ros LAM
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)
Clerk in attendance:
- Mrs Constance LI
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Staff in attendance:
- Miss Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr Andy LAU
- Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
NON-AIRPORT CORE PROGRAMME
Upgrading of projects to Category A
HEAD 702 - PORT AND AIRPORT DEVELOPMENT
Reclamation and servicing of Tuen Mun area 38 for special industries
Members expressed concern about the traffic and environmental implications of the proposed development of Tuen Mun Area 38. They asked what measures the Government had taken to address these problems. On traffic arrangements, the Director of Territory Development (DTD) advised that an information note had already been submitted to the LegCo Transport Panel and considered on 23 October 1996. Basically, to cope with the forecast increase in traffic, improvements were being carried out including widening the section of Lung Mun Road in Tuen Mun Area 38 so that the whole Lung Mun Road would become a two-lane dual carriageway in 1999. In addition, improvements would be made to the Wong Chu Road and Tuen Mun Road Interchange, and a new road would be constructed linking Tuen Mun area 45 and Wong Chu Road. The proposed improvements would be capable of meeting a forecast increase of 5 000 and 3 000 goods vehicle trips each way per day generated by the Special Industries Area (SIA) and the River Trade Terminal (RTT) respectively. As the recent forecast by the RTT developer indicated an even lower volume of vehicular traffic, the proposed developments should not have any adverse traffic impact on the local and external road networks. To alleviate the noise impact caused by the increased traffic, appropriate noise mitigation measures would be carried out at the detailed design stage of the roadworks concerned.
2. With regard to the environmental impact associated with the operation of SIA, DTD advised that the Expanded Development Study of Tuen Mun Area 38 in 1990 had confirmed that the SIA development would be feasible in planning, engineering and environmental terms. The Director of Environmental Protection added that operators within the SIA would have to be licensed and regulated under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance, and the effluent discharged from this area would be properly treated.
3. Noting that about one-third of the filling material for reclamation would come from public dumping, and the remaining two-thirds by imported filling, a member asked what monitoring measures would be put in place to ensure compliance. DTD replied that the resident site staff engaged by the consultants would be qualified personnel with experience, and they would be required to enforce the above requirements as clearly stated in the contract.
4. In view of the high cost of using imported materials for the reclamation, some members suggested the Government should use more construction waste. In response, DTD advised that this would unduly lengthen the time required for reclamation as there was only a limited supply of construction waste. Expressing concern about the preservation of marine environment and fisheries, a member urged the Administration to avoid using marine fill for the reclamation. DTD advised that such marine fill would come from borrow areas and the dredging would only be carried out subject to the recommendations of environmental impact assessment studies that there would not be any adverse impact on the marine environment.
5. On the proposed use of the common user pier, some members urged the Government to consider modifying its design so that it could also be used for passenger ferry services in addition to cargo handling. They considered that the use of waterborne transport should be encouraged as an alternative to land transport so as to relieve the traffic problem in Tuen Mun. The Administration noted members suggestion.
6. In response to a member, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) advised that the mode of operation of the SIA would be similar to the existing Industrial Estates, and applications for land from eligible industries would be considered by a central body. It was therefore not feasible to entrust the whole SIA development together with the reclamation to a single developer.
7. In discussing the need for the SIA, some members were of the view that the demand for land for certain special industries such as weaving and dyeing might have changed substantially following the relocation of industries to China. Since the present proposal was based on a study completed several years ago, some members considered it inappropriate to proceed with the SIA project given the changes in the industrial sector. While agreeing that there was a need to encourage investment and to provide sufficient land for manufacturing industries, some members indicated that they could not support the proposal in the absence of concrete information on the current need for the SIA. In view of members comments, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (DS/Tsy) proposed to withdraw the paper so that the Industry Department could provide an up-dated assessment on the demand of SIA for further consideration by the Subcommittee.
8. The proposal was withdrawn by the Administration.
HEAD 709 - WATERWORKS
Tan Kwai Tsuen fresh water service reservoir stage II and additional trunk transfer facilities between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun
9. A member asked whether there would be an alternative system to provide back up water supply services in case of emergency. In reply, the Director of Water Supplies (DWS) advised that the remaining part of this project would be to provide additional trunk transfer facilities, including a pumping station, between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun.
10. With regard to the substantial increase (70%) in the anticipated demand for fresh water supply in Tuen Mun area by the year 2001, DWS explained that the demand projections had taken into account the growth of population and the forecast increase in industrial and commercial uses in the area. He undertook to provide more detailed information on the forecast demand.
11. A member commented that since a consultancy study had just been commissioned to review the land use of Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, it would be more appropriate to await the review findings so that the project could take into account the overall anticipated demand for water supplies in the area. This would also avoid any possible interface or system upgrade problems in the future. In response, SPEL advised that the forecast demand for the present proposal was already based on the latest information available. According to the Long Term Development Strategy, Tuen Mun East and the Tuen Mun-Yuen Long Corridor had been classified as development zones, and early provision of adequate infrastructure would help to expedite developments in the area. As the existing service reservoirs would soon reach full capacity, it would be necessary to provide additional facilities to meet the increased demands of the area in the year 2000.
12. A member suggested the Government should synchronise related road opening projects when designing the watermain alignments; and that the alignments should as far as practicable be in line with the Western Corridor Railway, to avoid any subsequent interface problems. DWS noted the suggestion but advised that it might not be possible to synchronise all such projects which were subject to different considerations and timetables.
13. Regarding the traffic arrangements for the project, DWS advised that the mainlaying works would be carefully programmed and some of them might be carried out outside restricted hours to minimize traffic disruption. As most of the works would be carried out on new roads or at the roadside, there should not be much impact on existing road users.
14. The item was voted on and endorsed.
Revision in scope/approved estimate of projects in Category A
HEAD 704 - DRAINAGE
Hong Kong Island South sewerage improvements and sewage treatment and disposal facilities
15. Noting that the approved project estimates had already been increased by 42% in 1992, members queried why further cost increases were necessary. They expressed grave concern that the Administration had repeated the same mistake of under-estimating the complexity and difficulty of such large capital projects, resulting in project delays and cost increases. They asked what actions had been taken by the Government to prevent recurrence of similar mistakes in future.
16. In response, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) explained that the cost increase was mainly due to price fluctuations due to inflation since 1992. While the project was originally scheduled for completion in June 1994, substantial delays had occurred due to unexpected objections to the Shek O sewerage scheme by local residents. The process of planning and designing exact connection points for property connection works had taken longer to complete due to the absence of accurate records in older areas. Consequently, the project could only be completed by December 1998. DS/Tsy added that the cost increase was partly attributable to the effects of restrictions on the operating hours of works undertaken during the swimming season.
17. While agreeing that the project was complicated, covering a wide area and requiring extensive public consultation, members considered that the Government could actually avoid the pitfalls which might lead to project delays by allowing ample time for the administrative and consultative processes in the project planning stage, and using risk analysis for better cost estimates.
18. In response, the Secretary for Works and DS/Tsy advised that, in the light of experience and the comments of the Director of Audit and the Public Accounts Committee, the Administration had introduced improved procedures to ensure more effective management of such projects. These included a requirement for a preliminary project feasibility study to identify potential concerns on the technical, environmental, land and public consultation issues which would have to be resolved during the detailed investigation and design stage. Risk assessments would also be carried out to provide more accurate funding estimates for the project. To avoid delays caused by difficulties encountered in meeting statutory and administrative requirements, tenders would only be invited after completion of such procedures. A working group had been set up under the Works Branch to monitor the progress and spending of these projects.
19. Some members considered that while the Government was ultimately responsible for the project management, the consultant engaged for the project was also liable for the delay. They asked whether the Government would claim damages from the consultant, and whether any penalty would be instituted against the company. In reply, DDS advised that the Administration had already filed a claim to recover from the consultant any losses due to Government. The claims amounted to $25 million, including some $2.3 million for engaging additional resident site staff to monitor the excavation works. With regard to the monitoring of contractors performance, DS/Tsy advised that works departments were required to provide regular reports on the performance of the contractors under their supervision, and any contractor who produced an unsatisfactory performance would be warned. The Central Tender Board was also informed of contractors with adverse performance reports. The Board took such reports into account when considering the award of further works contracts. DS/Tsy assured members that the award of contracts was at present subject to a fair, open and equitable system which provided competition on a level playing field.
20. Responding to a member, DDS advised that outstanding compensation claims from contractors totalled $41.85 million. As most of the works were already completed, no further cost increase was envisaged.
21. DDS further advised that upon completion of the works in December 1998, local discharges would be treated properly and linked to the proposed sewage system, thus improving the environment of the South District, including the water quality of the beaches in the area.
22. Members expressed serious reservations on the way the project had been managed, and urged the Government to ensure that the project would be completed without further delay and within the revised estimate.
23. The item was voted on and endorsed.
Upgrading of projects to Category A
HEAD 703 - BUILDINGS
Special school for moderately mentally handicapped children at area 13, Tseung Kwan O
24. Several members queried the rationale for reprovisioning the existing special school in Sau Mau Ping to a distant area, i.e. Tseung Kwan O as proposed in the paper. They were concerned that the re-location might create transport problems and some inconvenience for mentally handicapped students and their parents.
25. In response, the Assistant Director of Education (AD of E) advised that the special school in Sau Mau Ping was due for demolition in 2001, being affected by the Housing Authoritys Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme in the area. Having considered the overall demand and supply of special school places for moderately mentally handicapped students in the territory, the Government planned to re-distribute such school places in districts. As there was a surplus of about 150 places in Kowloon district, and no provision was available in Sai Kung and Tseung Kwan O, the proposed reprovisioning would achieve a more even distribution of special school places to meet the demands of different districts.
26. With regard to the transport arrangements for students, AD of E advised that 24 existing students lived in Junk Bay. For those living in Kowloon, there were public transport services between their residences and the new school, and some students might be transferred to another special school in Kowloon. The school would provide a school bus service for the students who lived in Kowloon.
27. A member commented that since the ultimate aim of special education was to integrate handicapped children into mainstream schools, no new special schools should be built. He asked if the Government would review its policy in this respect. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (PAS/EM) advised that the Government was actually working towards the objective of integration, and a pilot programme on integration would start in the 1997/98 school year. Meanwhile, the Government would still need to provide sufficient school places for the existing students. At the request of a member, AD of E undertook to provide a detailed breakdown of the supply and demand of school places by district for moderately mentally handicapped children for members information.
28. Responding to a member, the Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) clarified that the consultancy fee was for quantity surveying services only, as the project design and other professional works would be carried out in house by the Architectural Services Department.
29. The item was voted on and endorsed.
Reprovisioning of Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation School
30. Responding to a member, AD of E advised that the overall demand for special school places for severely handicapped children in the territory was about 776. At present, there were ten special schools for severely mentally handicapped children in Hong Kong. As there was some spare capacity in the Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan districts, the Government planned to reprovision the existing Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation School at Lei Muk Shue Estate in Tsuen Wan to Yuen Long where there was a shortfall of special school places. At members request, AD of E undertook to provide a detailed breakdown of the supply and demand by district for special school places for severely handicapped children.
31. On the calculation of consultancy fees, a member asked why the Administration adopted a different ratio of professional and technical staff for this project. In reply, D Arch S explained that the calculation was only a rough estimate based on previous tender results for similar projects, and the estimate would be subject to adjustments when the actual man months and costs were known upon selection of the consultant.
32. Noting that there would still be a shortfall of about 40 special school places in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun districts after the reprovisioning, a member asked what measures the Government would take to meet the demand. In reply, AD of E clarified that the forecast demand was based on the population size of the area, and there might be a lower actual demand for such school places. As there were some vacancies in other schools, he did not envisage any major difficulty in meeting the demand.
33. As regards the impact of the re-location on existing students, AD of E advised that suitable arrangements would be made nearer the time of project completion. The affected students would either be transferred to another school of the same type in the vicinity or relocated to the new school for which adequate boarding places would be provided to obviate the need for travelling. Subsidized school bus services would also be provided to students in need. In reply to a member, PAS/EM confirmed that there would be adequate open space and amenities for the well-being of the boarders.
34. While members were in support of providing special school places in Yuen Long, some members expressed concern that the Tsuen Wan District Board had not been consulted on the demolition of the existing school which would directly affect some 30 students currently living in Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing. In view of members comments, the Administration agreed to consult Tsuen Wan District Board on the demolition proposal in due course. To delete reference to the arrangements in respect of the existing school in the discussion paper, DS/Tsy proposed to amend the proposal to read to upgrade 65ET to Category A at an estimated cost of $74.5 million in money-of-the-day prices for constructing a new special school for severely mentally handicapped children at area 6, Yuen Long.
35. The revised proposal was put to vote and endorsed.
School Improvement Programme - phase 3 (government schools)
36. A member queried why a multiplying factor of 3.0 instead of 2.1 was used in the present proposal. In reply, D Arch S explained that the factor of 3.0 was used having regard to the complexity of the proposed projects. As most of the schools covered by the School Improvement Programme Phase III were constructed some 20 years ago, the design and supervision work would be much more complicated than the previous two phases. The estimated consultants fees were considered reasonable taking into account the additional requirements for lifts and facilities for the disabled. The actual cost would, nevertheless, be subject to the result of an open tender for the selection of the consultants.
37. The Administration also noted a members suggestion that the standard formula for consultants fees should be applied consistently in funding submissions, and where the usual formula or multiplying factor was not adopted, the reasons should also be included in the discussion paper.
[Post-meeting note : Subsequent to the meeting, D of Arch S has further clarified that the bulk of the estimated consultancy fees for site supervision were not related to the provision of resident site staff. Hence, the adoption of a multiplier of 3 instead of 2.1 is consistent with the established formula.]
38. The item was voted on and endorsed.
39. The Committee was adjourned at 1:00 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
30 January 1997
Last Updated on 16 August 1999