Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. PWSC 21
(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 the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 15 October 1997, at 10:45 am

Members present:

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

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

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

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

Assistant Director/Administration, Independent Commission Against Corruption

Mrs Mimi BROWN
Deputy Government Property Administrator

Director of Architectural Services

Dr FUNG Hong
Deputy Director (Hospital Planning & Development), Hospital Authority

Ms Jennifer CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Health & Welfare (M2)

Ms Ellen CHOY
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)

Assistant Director of Education (Schools)

Government Geotechnical Engineer/Landslip Preventive Measures

Chief Building Surveyor/Slopes Safety, Building Department

Assistant Director of Education (Allocation & Support)

Director of Highways

Mr Johnny CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Regional Highway Engineer/Hong Kong

Clerk in attendance:

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5

Staff in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)7


Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(97-98)493018JOPurchase of departmental quarters for married staff of the Independent Commission Against Corruption

Referring to the Administration's actions in putting up a number of Government quarters for sale while at the same time constructing and purchasing flats as departmental quarters, members enquired about the Administration's policy and future plans in this regard. In response, the Deputy Government Property Administrator (DGPA) explained that it was Government's policy to provide departmental quarters for married local disciplined services staff. Government quarters being sold were of Grades A, B and C, while quarters to be purchased under the present proposal were lower grades D to G units for married officers and married junior personnel in the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The married junior personnel were not eligible for housing allowance.

2.As regards the comparison in cost-benefits between the construction of quarters and purchase of flats from the open market, DGPA explained that it was more economical to construct quarters in the longer term. The Government had completed three major departmental quarters projects in 1997. While there would be an on-going building programme, quarters thus produced might not be sufficient to satisfy requirements of all the disciplined services and the purchase of quarters still remained as an option.

3.In reply to a member, the Assistant Director/Administration of ICAC advised that in allocating quarters to staff, factors such as years of service, pay points and family circumstances were taken into account.

4.The item was voted on and endorsed.

New commitments/Changes in commitments for subvented projects


PWSC(97-98)48 8007MA Redevelopment of the Caritas Medical Centre

5.Members noted that the total number of beds after redevelopment would remain unchanged at 1 382, and enquired whether with the additional floor area, there was scope for increasing the number of beds to take into account the increase in housing units in the district within the next 10 years. In response, the Deputy Director (Hospital Planning & Development) (DD/HP&D) advised that in determining the size of hospitals, it was necessary to consider the regional demand and supply situation. Since there were a number of large hospitals in Kowloon and the 1 382 beds provided by the Caritas Medical Centre (CMC) was already significant in terms of hospital administration, this number was considered sufficient. He emphasised the fact that the current proposal would bring about major improvements in the quality of service. DD/HP&D also confirmed that the Administration would draw up plans for redeveloping other blocks in CMC at a later stage. In response to a member on a comparison of the gross floor area of the two blocks to be demolished, DD/HP&D undertook to provide the data after the meeting.Admin

(Post-meeting note : The gross floor area of the two blocks to be demolished, the Wai Mon block and Wai Lok block, were 8 866 square metres and 3 774 square metres respectively.)

6.Members also raised questions on various aspects of costs for the project on which the Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) replied as follows -

  1. The consultants' fee of $4.4 million, which amounted to less than 1% of the project cost, only covered the fees for contract administration. The design of the redevelopment plan was undertaken by the Government and no consultant fees were required in this respect;

  2. The contingencies and inflation allowance, which together made up over 30% of the project cost, were calculated according to the price adjustment factor as provided in the paper. The inflation after December 1996 had been taken into account in the cost estimate;

  3. The cost of $35.8 million for siteworks and piling was necessary because of the rocky nature of the site.

7.In response to a member's question, D Arch S advised that it would not be possible to shorten the construction period from six to five years because it was complicated and time consuming to refurbish existing blocks first and then decant existing patients and services before the Wai Mon and Wai Lok blocks could be demolished to allow the new construction to proceed.

8.Concerning the waiver of the 20% contribution required from subvented organizations in similar projects, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare explained that the decision was made having regard to the ability of the organization concerned to solicit donations, the scale of works involved and the improvement of services upon completion of the project. She quoted two precedents with the Haven of Hope Hospital and the Yan Chai Hospital, but stressed that the CMC had been requested to continue to use its best endeavours to solicit donations above the pledged level of $25 million during the course of the project. A member remarked that the Administration should review the appropriateness of the guideline for 20% contributions in the light of the many exceptional cases.

9.The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(97-98)53 8023EC Repairs to slopes of aided schools served with Dangerous Hillside Orders

10.The Government Geotechnical Engineer/Landslip Preventive Measures confirmed in response to members that the proposal would cover the costs of remedial works to about 200 sub-standard slopes the study on which would be completed by March 1998. He assured members that the Geotechnical Engineering Office of the Civil Engineering Department would provide assistance to aided schools served with Dangerous Hillslide Orders in the engagement of qualified geotechnical engineers for the remedial works. D Arch S added that a monitoring mechanism was also in place in the Architectural Services Department for providing necessary assistance such as on the reasonableness of the tender price.

11.In addressing a member's concern on the time span of three to four years for completing the remedial works, the Chief Building Surveyor/Slopes Safety of the Building Department advised that the Department would carry out urgent repair works on slopes that posed immediate danger.

12.The item was voted on and endorsed.

Revision in scope/approved estimate of projects in Category A


PWSC(97-98)513213ESSecondary school in area 20, Fanling
3214ESFirst secondary school in area 16, Tuen Mun
3215ESSecondary school in area 7, Tai Po
3216ESSecondary school in Aldrich Bay reclamation, Shaukeiwan
3218ESSecondary school in Chai Wan Estate
3219ESSecondary school in area 14B, Shatin
3220ESSecondary school in area 3, Tin Shui Wai

13.As noise mitigation measures had been included for most of the schools, members expressed concern about the learning environment and potential health risk and questioned the Administration's policy for the choice of sites for schools. They also enquired about the availability of facilities for the handicapped, other related facilities to be provided and the quality of fittings for the school complex.

14.The Assistant Director of Education (Allocation & Support) (AD of E/A&S) advised that the Administration would consider such factors as demand and accessibility when identifying sites for schools. Where relatively noisy sites were selected, the Education Department would have to be satisfied that necessary noise mitigation measures would be introduced. On the question of potential health risk, the Director of Environmental Protection clarified that the installation of air-conditioners would provide a mechanical ventilation system to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air to the classrooms.

15.As regards the provision of lifts in the schools for handicapped persons, AD of E/A&S confirmed that schools completed from 1997 onwards would have lifts and other facilities for handicapped persons. On the member's concern on the need for improvement in furniture and fittings, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2) (PAS/E&M)(2) advised that the matter had been given much attention. The Education Commission in its Report No. 7 had recommended a further delegation of authority to schools to maximize the utilization of resources and allow for flexibility, and the recommendations were under consideration by the Administration.

16.Concerning multi-media rooms and related computer facilities for existing schools, PAS/E&M(2) advised that resources had been earmarked for the provision of 15 computers for each existing primary school and for the addition of computer facilities for all secondary and primary schools. Schools could choose to install the computers in a computer room or in a few classrooms, or to acquire notebook computers.

17.In response to a member on the high piling costs for the projects such as that of $30.6 million for Project 216ES listed in the Enclosure to PWSC(97-97)51, D Arch S explained that the geological condition of the reclaimed land resulting from the method and materials used to reclaim the land would have a bearing on the piling costs. The Chairman advised that this subject could be followed up by the Panel on Planning, Lands and Works.

18.Before concluding, the Chairman remarked that listing out all six intended improvement items in paragraph 4 of the discussion paper was misleading as the proposal was only concerned with three of the items. He saw a need for discussion papers to be more focused in future.

19.The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(97-98)523225EPPrimary school in West Kowloon reclamation, Yau Ma Tei
3230EP Primary school in area 49A, Fanling

20.The AD of E/A&S confirmed in response to a member that facilities for handicapped persons and better quality furniture and fittings for the proposed secondary schools under PWSC(97-98)51 would similarly apply to the current proposal for primary schools. In relation to the policy commitment in the Chief Executive's Policy Address on the programme for the introduction of whole-day schooling, PAS/E&M(2) confirmed that the funding proposal under consideration would not affect such a policy and that the proposed multi-purpose area would provide a venue for students to take lunch. AD of E/A&S added that it would not be economical nor practical to provide kitchens in schools.

21.The item was voted on and endorsed.

Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(97-98)50 6459TH Wing Tai Road flyover and improvements to associated road junctions

22.The Chairman advised that the item had been considered at the meeting on 3 September 1997 but was withdrawn by the Administration as members considered that the effectiveness of the noise mitigation measures in connection with the construction of the Wing Tai Road flyover might not have been thoroughly assessed in the light of the future housing and traffic developments in the area. In the re-submission paper, the Administration had provided additional information which had addressed members' concerns. The latest information showed that the re-development programme for Chai Wan Estate would reduce the number of dwelling units affected by the noise nuisance from 460 to 252, as Blocks 10 and 13 of the Estate would become a school and an open space respectively after re-development.

23.Most members were satisfied with the additional information provided. A member noted however that a gap of four months existed between completion of the proposed roadworks and of implementation of the noise mitigation measures which meant that residents would have to put up with the noise nuisance during this period. She requested the Administration to synchronise the completion time-table of the two aspects of work. The Director of Highways (DHy) explained in response that the schedules were estimates only and that the Administration would aim to expedite the works to minimize nuisance to residents. As regards another member's concern on re-housing arrangements for tenants of public housing estates whose health would be affected by the use of air-conditioners, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5) (PAS for T(5)) confirmed that the Housing Authority would give special consideration to such compassionate cases and arrange for re-housing subject to the availability of suitable units in the region.

24.Miss CHAN Yuen-han remained dissatisfied with the public consultation on the proposal and made reference to the objections raised by the Eastern District Board and the area committees in 1995 and 1996 over the proposal for indirect technical remedies. She saw a need for further consultation before members endorsed the proposal. Mr CHAN Kam-lam also noted the time gap between the last consultation and suggested that the Administration should explain latest developments to the Eastern Provisional District Board.

25.In response, DHy explained that direct technical remedies such as noise barrier or noise enclosure on the flyover were impractical as the road noise was generated by at-grade traffic and such measures would only reduce the noise levels by 1 to 2 dB(A). Furthermore, a noise barrier up on the flyover would affect air circulation and block the view of residents of lower storeys. He referred members to the map attached to the discussion paper on the subject, and explained in detail how relatively few number of residents would be affected by the proposal. PAS for T(5) added that the objections raised had been considered by the former Governor-in-Council but was overruled in the public interest and the Eastern District Board had been so informed in writing. In view of the urgent need for the flyover in alleviating traffic demands in the area, and the lengthy and comprehensive consultations with the Eastern District Board and concerned area committees in 1995 and 1996, he did not consider it constructive to defer the proposal only for the purpose of re-explaining the situation once again. A few members shared similar views.

26.After deliberations, the Chairman suggested and the Administration agreed that the Administration would advise the Eastern Provisional District Board on latest developments before the proposal was put to the Finance Committee for approval. The Administration also advised that affected residents would be informed of the details in due course.Admin

27.The item was voted on and endorsed. Miss CHAN Yuen-han objected.

28.The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:25 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
4 November 1997