LegCo Panel on Transport
Subcommittee on Tsing Ma Control Area
Report by Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
at the Transport Panel meeting on 21 February 1997
I would like to make a report on behalf of the Subcommittee on Tsing Ma Control Area.
2. Pursuant to the Panels decision at the meeting on 24 January 1997, a Subcommittee on Tsing Ma Control Area was formed under the Panel to examine the staffing support for the Government Monitoring Team of the Tsing Ma Control Area. Hon CHAN Kam-lam, Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung and Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling and I joined the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee met on 3 February 1997 at which I was elected Chairman.
3. The Subcommittee examined thoroughly staffing proposals for the Government Monitoring Team for the three departments of Transport, Highways and Electrical and Mechanical Services. The Subcommittee agreed with the need for a team with sufficient staff to closely monitor the Operator of the Tsing Ma Control Area to ensure a safe and uninterrupted access to the New Airport at all times. However, members were concerned with whether the proposed establishment was appropriate. In particular, we were of the view that the Administrations role in the area should be confined to the monitoring of the performance of the Operator in discharging the contractual commitments while responsibilities not covered by the Contract should be outside the purview of the Team.
4. We pointed out as an illustration that the size of the proposed team from the Transport Department was comparable with that for traffic management in a region. Members also doubted the need for designating a traffic prosecutions team for the Area and sought to ascertain if the Administration had over-estimated the workload.
5. In response to members concerns, the Administration clarified at the meeting the staffing arrangement of 66 posts for the proposed establishment of the Government Monitoring Team.
5.1 Transport Department
The Team comprised 29 officers from the Transport Department. Eight officers would monitor the Operators performance to ensure that the standard of performance would meet contract requirements. The other 21 officers would be required to strengthen various divisions within the Department to handle additional works arising from the opening of the Area. Among these 21 new posts, three of them sought for the Prosecution Unit would be for strengthening the existing Prosecutions Team for handling anticipated increase in prosecution cases. Unlike fixed penalty cases, the Administration had to spend a much longer period of time to conduct intensive investigation on offences in the Area such as speeding and toll evasion. The other eight Transport Controllers would be for manning a 24-hour communication centre for receiving and disseminating messages to ensure prompt action on traffic accidents and emergencies in the Area and elsewhere in Hong Kong. This centre would serve a secondary function of providing off-site monitoring of the Operators performance 24 hours a day through the video links. Six new posts would be for manning regional offices for coping with increased workload in traffic management as a result of the opening of the Tsing Ma Control Area. Furthermore, two officers sought for the Highway Surveillance and Systems Division would be responsible for software development and enhancement work. The remaining two posts, including one Clerical Officer II and one Typist, were the supporting staff for the Team ;
5.2 Highways Department
The Team would comprise 26 officers from the Highways Department including one Chief Engineer. Ten of these officers would be required to man the Structures Section and the Highways Section to be set up for monitoring and auditing the performance of the Operator and ensuring that the inspection, maintenance and repair of facilities within the Area would be carried out in accordance with standards stipulated in the Contract. A Bridge Health Section with four officers would also be set up to evaluate the global health and identify potential hidden damages of the three long span cable-supported bridges. The remaining 11 posts would be supporting staff including Technical Officers and clerical staff. Another six posts including two Engineer posts for the Team would not be created until the Ting Kau Bridge completed in late 1997.
5.3 Electrical & Mechanical Services Department
For the Electrical & Mechanical Services Department, the Administration had advised that the posts of two Senior Engineers and nine Inspectors of Works would be responsible for monitoring the operation and maintenance of such complex and sophisticated systems as Wind and Structural Health Monitoring Systems and Cable Access System, which would be the first of the kind in the region.
6. The Administration has affirmed that the current proposed establishment represents the minimum requirement. Apart from descriptions of duties of staff in the Transport Department already provided to the Panel, the Administration has also provided the Subcommittee with details of major duties of staff for the Highways Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department for members reference.
7. In order to meet the schedule for the opening of the Tsing Ma Control Area, the Subcommittee agreed with the proposed establishment of the Government Monitoring Team but advised that the Administration should review the staffing for the Team within two years and whenever the situation warranted. The Administration had undertaken to comply with this request.
8. The above concludes the deliberations of the Subcommittee. Thank you!
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 February 1997