LC Paper No. PWSC92/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee of the Finance Committee
of the Legislative Council

Minutes of the twelfth meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
on Wednesday, 3 February 1999, at 10:45 am

Members present :

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Members absent :

Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Margaret NG
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Christine LOH
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :

Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Mr Gordon SIU, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Secretary for Works

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

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

Ms Michelle LI
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)

Mr Jack CHAN
Deputy Secretary-General (1), University Grants Committee

Chief Technical Advisor/Subvented Projects, Architectural Services Department

Mrs Margaret CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (9)

Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support)

Director of Highways

Ms Shirley LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Mrs Joanna KWOK
Chief Traffic Engineer (Kowloon), Transport Department

Director of Territory Development

Clerk in attendance:

Miss Polly YEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3

Staff in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8


Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(98-99)65 18EH University hostels at Baptist University Road - phase 1 (1 000 places) and phase 2 (629 places)

Mr LI Wah-ming declared an interest as a member of the Court & Council of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU).

2. Referring to remunerating the consultant on a scale fee basis for the project, the Chief Technical Advisor/Subvented Projects, Architectural Services Department (CTA(SP)) advised that HKBU had engaged the consultant for the project in 1995 on a scale fee basis because at that time the project would be wholly funded by HKBU without Government subvention. In December 1996, the Government promulgated a new policy to provide publicly-funded student hostel places at institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC). Under the policy, the Government would, subject to funding approval, provide funding to meet 75% of the costs for student hostel projects of UGC-funded institutions. Given that HKBU had already entered into a consultancy contract for the project, the Administration considered it more appropriate for HKBU to retain the contract and continue with the project planning. CTA(SP) assured members that for all new subvented projects, the Administration would require the subvented body to award consultancy contracts through tendering so that the level of consultant's fees would be determined through competitive bidding.

3. Regarding the reasons for not submitting this funding proposal at an earlier date, CTA(SP) advised that in anticipation of Government subvention following the promulgation of the policy, HKBU had revised the scope of the project and one major revision was the increase in hostel places from some 1 000 places to 1 629 places as presently proposed. Hence, the planning process had taken a longer period of time.

4. Whilst appreciating the reasons for using the scale fee approach in the present project, Mr LEE Wing-tat was concerned whether this case would set a precedent of committing the Government to fund other student hostel projects for which consultancy contracts had also been awarded on the scale fee basis earlier on. He requested the Administration to provide further information to enable members to fully assess the implications of approving the present proposal. In reply, CTA(SP) confirmed that a few more projects of UGC-funded institutions with consultancy contracts remunerated on a scale fee basis were being considered by the Administration. While the Government would prefer the tendering approach for the award of consultancy contracts, he pointed out that the merits of the scale fee approach were also recognized by the industry. He assured members that the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the UGC would scrutinize the terms of these consultancy contracts thoroughly to ensure that the fee scales were appropriate and reasonable. CTA(SP) further advised that for the project in question, the total consultant's fees excluding the costs for site supervision amounted to about 10% of the estimated construction cost, and this level was considered reasonable for a project of this scale.

5. In view of members' concern, the Chairman requested and the Administration agreed to provide, before the meeting of the Finance Committee scheduled to consider this item, a supplementary information note on those student hostel projects for which consultancy contracts had been awarded on a scale fee basis and which were being considered by the Administration. The information should include the estimated project costs and the estimated consultant's fees for each project. Admin.

6. As regards the construction unit cost of $9,506 per square metre for this project, CTA(SP) confirmed that the costs for the provision and installation of air-conditioning facilities had been included in the building services cost. Window type air-conditioners instead of central air-conditioning systems would be provided as the former required much lower capital costs and would be adequate for student hostels. As to how the construction unit cost for this project compared with that of other similar projects, he cited the student hostel project of Lingnan College which was completed recently at an actual construction unit cost of around $10,000 per square metre at December 1997 prices. He advised that, in comparison, the construction unit cost for this project was reasonable. CTA (SP) added that the slightly higher level of construction unit cost for the Lingnan College project was mainly due to its smaller scale and site location at Tuen Mun.

7. As regards Mr TAM Yiu-chung's enquiry about the demand for hostel places at HKBU, which was centrally located and easily accessible by public transport, the Deputy Secretary-General (1), University Grants Committee (DSG1/UGC) advised that although he was not aware that HKBU had carried out a formal survey of the demand, he envisaged that there was a strong demand for hostel places as students were generally keen on hostel life. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1) supplemented that the need for hostel places had been estimated on the premise that all undergraduates would have the opportunity to stay in hostels for at least one year and all research postgraduates, non-local students and undergraduates whose daily travelling time exceeded four hours would be provided with hostel places. As for hostel charges for students, DSG1/UGC advised that since the hostels were not yet built, HKBU had not decided on the level of charges at this stage. For members' reference, he said that presently, the University of Hong Kong charged students $8,000 a year for each hostel place while the Chinese University of Hong Kong charged $6,000. He also confirmed that most of the proposed hostel units were designed to accommodate two students.

8. In reply to members' enquiries about the difference in the estimated costs of the project between the Administration and HKBU, CTA(SP) confirmed that adjustments had been made after ArchSD had scrutinized HKBU's proposed estimates. The variation was due to the over or under-estimate of costs in items such as "building works" and "furniture and equipment". The upward adjustment of $10.63 million for building works was attributed to the under-estimation of the costs for internal building works. Responding to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong's query on whether the imprecision of HKBU's estimates had reflected incompetence on the part of the project consultant, CTA(SP) said that given the complexity of the project, it would not be fair to judge the competency or otherwise of the consultant solely on the imprecision of a few cost items. Considering the performance of the consultant in other aspects and the fact that the detailed design had not been completed at the time the consultant drew up the project estimates, he did not find evidence of incompetency as far as the project in question was concerned.

9. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)66 61EB Extension and conversion to Hong Kong and Kowloon Chiu Chow School

10. While expressing support for the proposal on account of the need to improve the environment and facilities of Hong Kong and Kowloon Chiu Chow School (HKKCCS) to meet present-day requirements of the curriculum, Mr LI Wah-ming asked whether a mechanism was in place to draw up funding requests for improvements to existing public sector schools in a systematic manner instead of on an ad hoc basis. In reply, the Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support) advised that presently, improvements to existing public sector schools were mostly planned and implemented in phases under the School Improvement Programme (SIP). However, the Administration handled this project separately because HKKCCS had started planning for an assembly hall block extension in 1995 before such facilities were provided under the SIP.

11. In reply to the Chairman and Mr LI's enquiries about the planning procedures and the standard of provisions under the SIP, AD/E(A&S) explained that the SIP was one of the recommendations of the Education Commission Report No. 5, and was being implemented in phases. Under each phase, a comprehensive survey on the facilities of a certain number of public sector schools would be carried out to identify any shortfall in facilities to meet the present-day requirements of the curriculum. Based on the survey findings and having regard to the physical constraints of individual schools, a programme of improvement works for a group of schools would be drawn up with a view to putting forward a funding proposal.

12. In reply to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, AD/E(A&S) confirmed that the proposed assembly hall block extension would be built within the existing boundary of HKKCC and the proposed design had optimized the site utilisation opportunities. Addressing Mr CHEUNG's concern about the availability of open space for student activities after the extension was built, AD/E(A&S) pointed out that at present, HKKCCS had a site area of about 4 800 square metres. After construction of the - extension which would occupy about 1100 square metres, the school would still have an open playground of some 1 000 square metres with two basketball courts. In addition, the rooftop of the extension could provide open space for student activities and the school would also maintain a landscaped area of 410 square metres. AD/E(A&S) also confirmed that although the site area of the school was slightly smaller than that of a standard secondary school, the facilities to be provided and the space available for student activities were adequate.

13. Noting the site constraints of the school, Mr CHEUNG Man-Kwong referred to the Director of Audit's comments earlier on that the development potential of the adjacent site occupied by the existing Mainland Offices of the Water Supplies Department in Sai Yee Street, Mong Kok, had not been optimized. In this connection, he enquired about the feasibility of allocating part of this site to the school to provide the latter with more open space. In response, AD/E(A&S) assured members that upon completion of the proposed improvement works, the provision of facilities for HKKCCS would be commensurate with the prevailing standard design for a public sector secondary school, and the space provision was not exceptionally low when compared with other public sector schools in the urban area.

14. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)64 124TB Pedestrian subway at junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Salisbury Road

15. Mr Kenneth TING expressed support for the proposal. He noted that the estimated cost of $6 million for the item "lift, escalator and associated electrical and mechanical works" for this project appeared to be relatively low when compared to a similar item "subway electrical and mechanical works, including a lift" at an estimated cost of $5 million under project 125TB "Pedestrian subway at the junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Peking Road" (which was endorsed by the Finance Committee on 15 January 1999). At his request, the Director of Highways (D/Hy) agreed to provide in due course information on the outturn tender prices for the aforesaid two items with a breakdown on the prices for the lifts and escalators under the respective projects. Admin.

16. Mr CHEUNG Wing-sum enquired about the relationship between this project and project 589TH "Salisbury Road Underpass and associated road improvement works including the Middle Road traffic circulation system", which was now in Category B and was at the detailed design stage, with particular regard to the future traffic capacity of Salisbury Road. In reply, the Chief Traffic Engineer (Kowloon), Transport Department (CTE(K)), advised that this project, 589TH and another project to construct a pedestrian subway at the junction of Nathan Road and Salisbury Road formed a package of measures to improve the safety and traffic capacity of Salisbury Road. Upon completion of this project in 2002, the junction of Salisbury Road and Kowloon Park Drive would have a reserve capacity of 17%. The completion of 589TB scheduled for 2003 would likely bring about higher velocities of traffic flow and thus might slightly reduce the reserve capacity of this junction.

17. Miss CHAN Yuen-han questioned the need for resident site staff for this project which she did not consider a complicated one. In response, DHy advised that for all civil engineering projects, resident site staff were required to provide site supervision The level and amount of professional and technical input on site however would depend on the complexity of the project concerned. He pointed out that this project was in fact fairly complicated as it involved underground works that were to be carried out at an urban location with busy at-grade traffic and a lot of underground utility installations. The works would require fairly complicated civil engineering solutions as they required excavation and construction of a subway structure 10 metres below the road surface which had to ensure the integrity of adjacent structures and carriageways . A lot of liaison and co-ordination would also be required to deal with the interface between the works and existing underground installations and to implement phased traffic diversions for both vehicles and pedestrians. In reply to Miss CHAN, DHy confirmed that an engineering project involving substantial underground works at a site with heavy at-grade traffic was usually regarded as a complicated engineering project.

18. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)63 81CD Northwest New Territories development - main drainage channels for Yuen Long and Kam Tin - remainder

19. In relation to Mr CHAN Kam-lam's enquiry about the overall plan and progress of river improvement works in the territory, the Director of Territory Development (DTD) advised that river improvement works - mainly involved improvements to the downstream sections prior to subsequent improvements to the upper sections of rivers in Yuen Long (mainly in Ngau Tam Mei and Kam Tin) and in the North District (mainly River Beas and River Indus). As far as the present project was concerned, he referred to the map enclosed with the discussion paper and advised that most of the required river training works in Kam Tin and Ngau Tam Mei were at an advance stage. Apart from the works under the present proposal, the remaining works not yet upgraded to Category A were shown in "green" in the map attached to the paper.

20. Noting that the two studies on flood control strategies referred to in the discussion paper were carried out in 1983 and 1993 respectively, Mr James TIEN expressed concern on whether the design of proposed river improvement works had taken into account the exceptionally heavy rainstorms which had occurred in recent years. In reply, DTD reported that upon improvement, the river channels would be capable of accommodating a 50-year return period rainstorm. He confirmed that the rainfall data of the past 50 years up to 1998 had been taken into account in the detailed design completed recently for the proposed works.

21. The item was voted on and endorsed.

22. The Subcommittee adjourned at 11:30 am.

Legislative Council Secretariat1
9 March 1999