Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. PWSC 53
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee of the
Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the meeting held at Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building on Wednesday, 10 December 1997, at 10:45 am

Members present :

Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Member attending :

Hon IP Kwok-him

Members absent :

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Public officers attending :

Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Secretary for Works

Director of Environmental Protection

Mr James HERD
rincipal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)

Director of Drainage Services

Director of Highways

Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Project Management)

Director of Architectural Services

Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support)

Chief Architect/1, Housing Department

Director of Water Supplies

Miss Maureen WONG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (3)

Assistant Commissioner for Customs and Excise (Border & Drugs)

Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West, Transport Department

Mr Benny WONG
Assistant Director of Environmental Protection (Waste Facilities)

Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Facility Development)

Mr Bernard LAM, JP
Director of Civil Engineering

Clerk in attendance:

Miss Odelia LEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mrs Mary TANG
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

Mr Kenneth KWOK
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

In the absence of the Chairman who was out of town, the Deputy Chairman chaired the meeting.


Upgrading of projects to Category A




Investigation of sewers and drains affecting the safety of cut slopes

2. On the scope of the proposed project, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) explained that the project, being the second of its kind, would be a comprehensive investigation into the physical conditions of public sewers and drains underneath and adjacent to cut slopes. The project would identify areas requiring repairs and would recommend appropriate remedial works. A similar project to study public sewers and drains underneath and adjacent to fill slopes and retaining walls commenced in August 1996 and was due for completion in December 1998.

3. Noting that the investigation of the proposed project would be focusing on the 5 520 cut slopes registered under the 1977-78 Catalogue of Slopes, a member questioned whether the Catalogue which had been compiled some 20 years ago would be providing up-to-date information for the purpose of this investigation. In response, DDS said that compilation of a new catalogue of slopes containing all sizeable man-made slopes in Hong Kong was underway. This was expected to be completed by early 1998. The Administration estimated that a substantial number of slopes not included in the 1977-78 Catalogue were relatively new man-made slopes which had already been checked to comply with modern safety standards. Nevertheless, upon completion of the new slopes catalogue, the Administration would consider the need for further surveys of sewers and drains underneath relatively new man-made slopes which might affect slope safety.

4. Some members expressed concern about the stability of natural slopes and hillsides which covered a sizeable land area in Hong Kong and enquired about the need for detailed investigations of sewers and drains buried in such slopes. DDS replied that as compared with man-made slopes, the risk of failure in respect of natural slopes was inherently lower. At present, there was no catalogue of natural slopes. Through an on-going maintenance programme for sewers and drains, those identified as affecting slope safety were examined and repaired irrespective of whether they were buried inside natural or man-made slopes. The Secretary for Works (S for W) assured members that the Administration was equally concerned about the safety of natural slopes. Slope stability programmes had been undertaken as a gradual, step-by-step exercise. Given the higher risks involved, man-made slopes should be accorded higher priorities in terms of investigation. He added that the Administration was carrying out a systematic mapping of natural slopes and boulders, using aerial photograph interpretation methods. Attention would be focused on natural slopes which are close to densely populated areas. The Deputy Chairman suggested that members who wished to discuss the issue of slope safety further might raise the matter at meetings of the Panel on Planning, Lands and Works.

5. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Wong Chuk Hang Road flyover and associated road widening

6. Some members questioned whether the proposed project was the best way to cope with future traffic demand arising from the developments in Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang. They observed that there was some potential for widening the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Ocean Park Road to divert traffic. Members were particularly concerned about the potential environmental nuisance caused by the proposed Wong Chuk Hang Road flyover to nearby residents and sought information on measures to be taken to mitigate environmental nuisance during implementation of the project.

7. In response, the Director of Highways (DHy) explained that the existing eastbound traffic along Wong Chuk Hang Road had to be routed through Ocean Park Road and Police School Road in order to reach Nam Long Shan Road. Notwithstanding a spare capacity of 46% at present, the capacity of the existing junction at Wong Chuk Hang Road and Nam Long Shan Road would be unable to cope with future traffic demand arising from the housing developments in Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang due for completion by 2001 and 2002. Upon implementation of the proposed road project, the junction would have a reserve capacity of 21% in 2011. In the Administration's view, the suggestion of widening the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Ocean Park Road could not entirely mitigate the problem of future traffic congestion. The proposed project, on the other hand, would provide a long-term solution to alleviate anticipated traffic increases at the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Nam Long Shan Road.

8. As regards possible environmental impacts of the project, DHy advised that the Environmental Impact Assessment study for the project had concluded that it would not result in any long-term air or noise problems but recommended environmental improvement measures including the provision of aesthetic treatment for the flyover. To maintain adequate clearance between building facades and the flyover for the purpose of fire fighting, the flyover would be situated at least six metres away from the buildings facing Wong Chuk Hang Road. During implementation of the project, appropriate measures would be taken to ameliorate environmental nuisances, such as construction noise and dust emissions, in accordance with the established policies and standard. Government staff would closely monitor the contractor's performance on site to ensure compliance with the environmental requirements specified in the contract.

9. Noting that a footbridge at the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Nam Long Shan Road would be demolished upon commissioning of the flyover, members enquired about the provision of pedestrian crossing facilities during construction of the works. A member pointed out her reservations about the proposed demolition of the footbridge because footbridges were a better alternative to traffic lights and at-grade crossings in terms of pedestrian safety and smoothness of traffic flow. She enquired about the possibility of retaining the footbridge. DHy advised that the Administration had carefully examined the possibility of retaining the footbridge, but concluded that there were technical constraints in doing so. For example, the pillar of the existing footbridge, if retained, would be in the middle of the newly widened road. He assured members that the footbridge would only be demolished after the commissioning of the flyover and a permanent at-grade pedestrian crossing would be provided at the junction to replace the demolished footbridge. He also undertook to ensure that all existing pedestrian crossing facilities would remain intact during construction of the flyover. He added that the Administration was considering expediting the construction of a footbridge near the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Ocean Park Road to tie in with the present proposed project.

10. A member objected to the project on the grounds that it was not the only option to resolve traffic congestion and that it would cause undesirable environmental impacts. He opined that the Administration should seriously consider other options, like widening the junction of Wong Chuk Hang Road and Ocean Park Road, Police School Road and Heung Yip Road, or decking the nullah along Heung Yip Road. Nevertheless, members noted that the Traffic and Transport Committee of the Southern District Board had requested early implementation of the project and requested the Administration to provide information on the deliberations and voting results of the District Board on the subject for the Committee's reference.

11. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury said that supplementary information to address members’ concerns including assessing the feasibility of other alternatives mentioned in paragraph 10, and the relevant information relating to Southern District Board's consideration of the matter would be provided when the project is re-submitted to the Committee. Admin

12. The item was withdrawn by the Administration.



Primary school in area 105, Tin Shui Wai

13. A member opined that the Administration had probably worked out the projected demand for primary schools in Tin Shui Wai by 2001 based on the results of the 1996 By-census. He queried whether the same had been done for special schools for handicapped children in the North West New Territories, of which there was reported to be an acute shortage. The Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support) (AD/E(A&S)) explained that the methods for calculating demand for ordinary and special schools were different. The former was relatively simple, hence a difference in the time required for compiling the two sets of figures. The Administration was actively working out the projected demand for special schools. He added that the construction programme for the proposed primary school had been advanced to tie in with the overall public housing development programme in the area.

14. Responding to a member's concern about the availability of a lift for the physically disabled and the physical size of the proposed primary school, AD/E(A&S) advised that following enactment of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 487), the provision of lifts was a standard requirement in all new buildings. He added that the proposed school would have a site area of 6 200 square metres, which was much larger than earlier schools, and would have enough space for two basketball courts. AD/E(A&S) assured members that the proposed school building fully complied with current town planning standards.

15. A member enquired why only a 2% on-cost would be charged by the Housing Authority to the Architectural Services Department (ASD) for this project whereas the Architectural Services Department charged non-governmental clients a much higher on-cost for their projects. The Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) clarified that the proposed school was a standard design school building. The 2% on-cost was mainly the cost of providing a limited amount of administrative and supervisory work related to the construction phase of the project. For projects of the Provisional Municipal Councils undertaken by ASD, which involved greater resource inputs, the standard on-cost was 16%.

16. A member opined that to keep pace with the fast-developing information technology, the standard design of a school building ought to be updated and the facilities of schools improved. He was concerned that the facilities might become obsolete by the time the proposed school was built. AD/E(A&S) advised that the standard design of school buildings was revised from time to time to cater to new requirements. In fact, the ASD was currently working on an updated design for this purpose. As far as the proposed school was concerned, the design provided for an increased number of special rooms. The design of the school would also facilitate future alterations necessitated by technological changes.

17. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Extension of Shau Kei Wan high level water supply systems

18. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Extension of water supply to Ma On Shan

19. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Expansion of kiosks and other facilities at Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing

20. Members considered that co-ordination with the Mainland was of utmost importance in any expansion of border facilities. In this regard, they enquired whether the Shenzhen authorities had any corresponding plan to tie in with the proposed expansion of facilities at the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (3) (PAS/T(3)) advised that the Mainland authorities had been kept informed of the details of the proposed project. The Lok Ma Chau Passage Experts Group of the Infrastructure Co-ordination Committee had discussed border traffic arrangements. The Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government and the Mainland authorities had agreed on the passenger figure of 25 000 per day. The crossing facilities in Huanggang in Shenzhen had already been improved and this number could be catered for with existing facilities. The two sides had all along been in close liaison concerning development of railways and other related facilities. PAS/T(3) undertook to provide information on corresponding improvement measures in Shenzhen. PAS/T(3) also assured members that the Transport Bureau and the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau had been working closely in co-ordinating land planning and development of transport infrastructure including border facilities. Admin

21. In response to members’ enquiries about the details of the consultancy fees, D Arch S stated that the proposed consultancy was the first one of its kind for cross-boundary projects. The Administration was contemplating a similar consultancy in respect of another boundary crossing and was satisfied that the consultancy fees for both projects were comparable and reasonable. As to the contract documentation cost of $15.2 million, D Arch S explained that this would cover the cost of tender documentation, including specifications.

22. Responding to a member's concern that the proposed project had yet to undergo public consultation, D Arch S said that the Administration considered it more appropriate to consult the relevant local bodies after details of the project had been finalized upon completion of the consultancy study. The project mainly involved expansion of kiosks and other facilities such as x-ray examination systems and electronic security installations which were urgently needed to facilitate increased cross-border traffic. S for W added that space had been reserved for expansion when the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing was opened. Consultation would be conducted at a later stage when information on environmental and drainage impact studies were available. Miss CHAN Yuen-han was unconvinced of the explanations put forth by the Administration for conducting consultation after the consultancy had been completed.

23. In reply to a member's question about the effectiveness of container vehicle x-ray examination systems, the Assistant Commissioner for Customs and Excise advised that such facilities at Huanggang and Man Kam To on the mainland side had proven to be highly effective. Since their installation, 641 smuggling cases involving $150 million of goods had been detected by the mainland authorities. The Administration therefore considered it necessary to install similar facilities at Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing.

24. Members were concerned about the extent of improvements brought about by the expansion of kiosks and other facilities. PAS/T(3) said that at present the pledged handling capacity of each kiosk was 90 vehicles per hour. With the addition of ten kiosks, 900 more vehicles could be cleared per hour. As regards the expected improvement to the average waiting time of vehicles at the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing, the Chief Traffic Engineer/Transport Department (CTE/TD) explained that the present average waiting time was six to 16 minutes. The waiting time during peak hours was about half an hour. At noon when the queue of vehicles was the longest, the waiting time was increased to 45 minutes to one hour. It was expected that the average waiting time would be reduced to six to ten minutes upon completion of the proposed project. Members requested the Administration to advise in writing the average waiting time during peak hours before and after implementation of the proposed project. Members also reminded the Administration to step up liaison with the Mainland authorities on the enhancement of facilities in Shenzhen to handle the vehicles which had crossed the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing. Admin

25. On the possibility of using 'tidal' control methods over inbound and outbound traffic at Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing to maximise resources, D Arch S explained that for security reasons, the traffic in opposite directions should be separated. At present this mode of control could be used for passenger traffic when necessary. However, this would no longer be feasible nor necessary upon the proposed expansion of kiosks.

26. A member was concerned about the adequacy of the expanded facilities if the restriction on private vehicles crossing the border was relaxed. PAS/T(3) advised that the present proposal was based on the existing facilities at the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing. A consultancy was underway to assess the overall demand for cross boundary facilities. CTE/TD advised in response to a member that the two-lane carriageway at the boundary crossing could cope with the passage of 3 600 vehicles per hour which was much larger than the handling capacity of the total number of kiosks even after expansion. On a member's suggestion to allow passengers to park their vehicles at the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing and walk across the border, CTE/TD said that future cross border traffic arrangement would need to be jointly worked out by the Mainland authorities with the SAR Government.

27. Members were concerned that police officers were frequently required to lie underneath container vehicles to detect illegal immigrants. They urged the Administration to improve this aspect of the detection process. The Administration noted members’ concerns and agreed to relay them to the relevant bureau.

28. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Restoration of Northwest New Territories landfills, Part 2 and the Gin Drinkers Bay landfill

29. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Revision in scope/approved estimate of projects in Category A




Explosives Complex at Kau Shat Wan, building, mechanical and electrical works

30. A member enquired if it was a standard practice to lay electricity cables inside concrete troughs. The Director of Civil Engineering said that the standard practice was to lay such cables in trenches backfilled with sand but in this project, the Administration considered it necessary to locate the cables in concrete troughs because they would be vulnerable to damage from settlement of the reclamation.

31. The item was voted on and endorsed.

32. The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat

14 January 1998