LC Paper No. PWSC51/98-99
(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 seventh meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 11 November 1998, 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 Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Margaret NG
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Members absent :

Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :
Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

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

Mrs Stella HUNG, JP
Deputy Secretary for Works (Programme & Resources)

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

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

Director of Drainage Services

Director of Territory Development (Ag.)

Chief Fire Officer (Headquarters), Fire Services Department

Director of Highways

Ms Shirley LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Mrs Joanna KWOK
Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon, Transport Department

Mr SO Yam-tat
Chief Engineer/Strategic Roads, Transport Department

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

Ms Jennifer CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Medical) 2

Dr FUNG Hong
Deputy Director (Hospital Planning and Development), Hospital Authority
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
The Chairman informed members that Dr TANG Siu-tong had joined the Subcommittee.


Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(98-99)34 - 203DS - North District sewerage

2. Noting that the project in question would be implemented in phases and the whole project was scheduled for completion in late 2005, members enquired whether some improvements could be achieved in the near future before full completion of the works. In reply, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) advised that some improvements could be expected in the year 2001 as the works on connecting unsewered villages to the sewerage facilities for the district would commence in July 2000 for completion by July 2002 under stage 1 phase 1B of the project. To facilitate members' consideration, he agreed to provide more information on the timing of improvement or benefits as a result of sewerage works in future submissions on sewerage projects. Admin.

3.In reply to members' enquiries on whether the whole project could be expedited by advancing the subsequent phases, DDS advised that this was a large scale and comprehensive sewerage project for the entire North District at an estimated cost of about $1 billion. Apart from the inherent complexity of the works involved, the implementation schedule needed to tie in with the long-term land resumption programme of the Lands Department. The statutory procedures required under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance to enable private developments to connect their facilities to the sewerage system also had to be observed. He further explained that land resumption for river training and sewerage projects was implemented according to a long-term land resumption programme for public works projects agreed between the works group of departments and the Lands Department. The acceleration of individual projects requiring land resumption would have implications on the overall land resumption programme, and thus might not be feasible.

4. On the overall sewerage plan for the North District, and whether the works included under this project constituted all the sewerage works planned for the district, DDS advised members that the works included in the present project had been programmed under a comprehensive North District Sewerage Master Plan. Upon completion of this project, the sewerage overloading and water pollution problems in the district should virtually be eliminated. In this connection, members commented that as sewerage projects were often implemented in phases and individual proposals covered only part of the works under the relevant master sewerage plan, more information on the demand for sewerage facilities of a district and on the relevant sewerage master plan should be provided, where practicable, in future proposals to facilitate the Subcommittee's consideration.

5. A member observed that for most public works projects, including the project under consideration, a lead time of some five months was required for the tendering exercise. He suggested that the Administration should adopt a flexible approach and where practicable, expedite the tendering exercise. In response, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3) advised that there was no standard requirement as to the period of time required for the tendering exercise for a public works project. All along, Government departments had endeavoured to expedite the process. With regard to this project, the tender invitation would be gazetted shortly after obtaining the funding approval. She however drew Members' attention to the fact that according to current provisions in the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organisation, of which Hong Kong was a signatory, at least 40 days should be allowed for submission of tenders in respect of construction projects with cost estimates exceeding about $55 million under normal circumstances. Upon receipt of tenders, the department concerned would need to assess the submissions to decide whether tenders submitted were in compliance with the tender specifications, seek clarifications where necessary, and prepare a report for the Central Tender Board's consideration. She said that in general, the whole process might take about three to five months.

6. In view of members' concerns about the phasing and time scale of sewerage projects, the Chairman suggested that the policy aspects of these concerns be further discussed by the relevant Panel. He also suggested that where feasible, the relevant Panel should be briefed in advance on the sewerage master plan under which proposed sewerage works was required. A member asked the Administration to provide further information, when the subject was brought up for Panel discussion, on the problems encountered in expediting sewerage projects, particularly those relating to land resumption. XX

7.In reply to a member's enquiry about the reason for the relatively low consultant's fees ($0.1 million) for this proposal, DDS explained that the major part of the works under the present proposal would be supervised by in-house staff. To minimize conflicts between different contracts, a short section of about 120 metres of rising mains (shown blue on the layout plan attached to the paper) situated within the work site of a drainage project undertaken by the Territory Development Department would be included under the works contract for the said drainage project. The consultant's fees under the present proposal were a pro-rata amount of the consultant's fees for the entire drainage project.

8. As regards the extent of the present water pollution and sewage overflow problems in the North District, DDS advised that the Sheung Shui and Fanling new towns were well sewered and the discharges were conveyed to and treated at the Shek Wu Hui Sewage Treatment Plant. A project was underway to upgrade this facility to increase its capacity and to effect a higher standard of treatment with nutrient removal and disinfection. The works included in the present project for these new town areas were targeted at alleviating the expected overloading of sewers generated by the projected growth in population. Another objective of the project was to address the water pollution problem caused by the discharges generated by a total of 74 unsewered villages in the North District. Some of these villages would be connected to the Shek Wu Hui Treatment Plant, while - others would be catered for by a separate small sewage treatment plant. Addressing a member's concern about the impact of discharges from unsewered villages on the freshwater supply system, DDS confirmed that the unsewered villages in this project were not located within the freshwater catchment arenas and discharges from these villages had no adverse effect on the freshwater reservoirs in the area.

9. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)37 - 193CL -Peng Chau development, package 4, engineering works

10. Members noted that a comprehensive access network for emergency vehicles would be provided in Peng Chau under this project and under another project entitled "194CL - Peng Chau development, package 3, stage 2 engineering works", which had also been scheduled for discussion at this meeting under item PWSC(98-99)38. On how the proposed emergency vehicular access (EVA) network could improve fire fighting/rescue operations on the island, the Chief Fire Officer (Headquarters), Fire Services Department (CFO) advised that mini-fire trucks and mini-ambulances would suffice for normal fire fighting/rescue operations in Peng Chau and in other outlying islands. However, in view of future developments in Peng Chau with a larger population and newer buildings of up to six storeys, the Administration considered it necessary to upgrade the existing pathways to EVAs of 4.5 metres wide to enable access by standard fire appliances with more powerful pumping equipment and more efficient aerial fire fighting/rescue facilities. When construction of the EVA was completed, both mini-fire trucks and standard fire appliances would be deployed for use in Peng Chau. Addressing members' concern about the access to buildings located along pathways which would not be served by the EVA network, the CFO advised that although standard fire appliances would not be able to reach such buildings, the EVA network nearby would permit them to get sufficiently close for fire fighting purposes. The Administration took note of a member's suggestion that the feasibility of providing mini-fire trucks with more powerful equipment should be explored as some buildings would still not be directly accessible by standard fire appliances.

11. A member noted that the provision of the EVA network would require reclamation along the coastline in south-western Peng Chau and the upgrading of sections of existing footpaths/roads to EVA standard. He enquired about the reasons for the time lapse of seven months between the gazettal of the proposed reclamation works and that of the proposed road scheme. In reply, the Director of Territory Development (DTD) explained that the proposed reclamation works were gazetted at an earlier stage as not many people were expected to be affected by the works. However, the proposed road scheme would affect a number of residential buildings and require some land acquisition. Before gazetting the proposed road scheme, the Administration had therefore taken some time to meet with the residents and parties concerned with a view to minimising objections upon gazettal of the scheme.

12. A member asked whether mooring, loading and unloading activities of vessels could be accommodated along the south-western coast of Peng Chau upon completion of the proposed works. In reply, DTD advised that the design of the seawall had taken into account residents' concerns in this regard and the situation would be improved upon completion of the proposed works. The new seawall would include a 230-metre perpendicular section to facilitate mooring, loading and unloading activities. In response to the member's further enquiry, he confirmed that under normal weather conditions, vessels could be moored safely overnight along the coast after the new seawall was constructed.

13. Regarding a member's concern about the environmental impact of the proposed reclamation works, DTD advised that the overall environment would be improved upon completion of the works as more amenities would be provided. As the proposed reclamation was small in scale and the coastal seabed would not be contaminated, the reclamation works would have a limited and short-term environmental impact only. He assured members that the contractor would be required to implement mitigation measures to control the environmental impact within established standards during the construction period. Commenting on the need for reclaiming land for construction of part of the EVA network along the south-western coast, DTD pointed out that reclamation could avoid large scale land acquisition, and according to residents of Peng Chau, the existing seawall at the south-western coast of Peng Chau was wearing out and thus the construction of a new seawall was timely. Moreover, apart from the provisions for EVA, a landscaped promenade would be provided along the coast on the reclaimed land.

14. In response to a member's question concerning the sewerage facilities for Peng Chau, DTD advised that presently, most of the discharges from Peng Chau were conveyed to the sewage treatment plant at Tai Lee Island. He confirmed that upon completion of the sewerage works under this project, nearly all the developments in Peng Chau would be provided with sewerage connections.

15. A member asked whether the arrangements for providing eligible clearees rehousing in the same district under this project would also apply to other cases of land resumption. The Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands as well as DTD advised that it was not practicable to offer eligible clearees public rental housing in the same district in every case of land resumption, and the existing policy on rehousing did not oblige the Government to do so. They pointed out that the circumstances for the rehousing arrangements under this project were special since Peng Chau was a rather remote area and incidental to this Peng Chau development project, a site in Peng Chau had been reserved for a new rural public rental housing estate. As such, it was feasible to offer eligible clearees of this project public rental housing in Peng Chau.

16. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)36 - 124TB - Pedestrian subway at junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Salisbury Road

17. Members asked how the proposed pedestrian subway could enhance the traffic flow capacity at the junction between Kowloon Park Drive and Salisbury Road, bearing in mind that even with the deletion of the at-grade pedestrian crossing, it would still be necessary to regulate vehicular traffic at the junction by traffic signals. In reply, the Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon (CTE/K) advised that the proposed pedestrian subway was one of a series of traffic improvement projects aimed to improve the capacity of the main roads in the area, namely Salisbury Road, Kowloon Park Drive and Nathan Road (Tsim Sha Tsui section), to meet the future increase in traffic flows, particularly those brought about by the opening of the Hung Hom Bypasss in 1999. She explained that although the junction between Salisbury Road and Kowloon Park Drive would still be regulated by traffic signals, the waiting time for vehicles would be shortened with the deletion of the at-grade pedestrian crossing and the modification of the traffic signal system at Salisbury Road. She also confirmed that at present, vehicles from the Cultural Centre carpark access road were allowed to turn left onto Salisbury Road only and this arrangement would remain unchanged even when the at-grade pedestrian crossing was deleted.

18. A member expressed concern that the northern entrance of the pedestrian subway was rather indirect and thus some pedestrians might take a short cut to cross the road at-grade instead. In response, CTE/K said that the subway would provide a safe means of crossing the road and pedestrians would only need to travel some 60 to 100 metres further than before. Upon the deletion of the at-grade pedestrian crossing, both sides of Salisbury Road would be fenced to prevent jay-walking. A member asked whether the capacity of the subway would be able to cope with the pedestrian flow when popular events were held at the Cultural Centre and in its vicinity. In response, CTE/K advised that the proposed subway would be able to cope with a pedestrian flow of 10,000 people per hour. With the assistance of the Police in controlling the crowds at popular events, there should be no problem in maintaining orderly pedestrian traffic in the area. At the request of a member, CTE/K agreed to provide information on the present pedestrian flow at the at-grade pedestrian crossing and the expected pedestrian flow of the proposed subway. Admin.

19. A member noted that the estimated cost for "lift, escalator and associated electrical and mechanical works" was $6.0 million for this project whereas the estimated cost for a similar item under project "125TB - Pedestrian subway at junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Peking Road" discussed under PWSC(98-99)33 at the last PWSC meeting of 21 October 1998 was $9.1 million. He queried the substantial difference between the two estimates as these were essentially similar works. In reply, the Director of Highways (DHy) said the estimated cost for the item "electrical and mechanical works, including a lift" under project 125TB should be $5 million instead of $9.1 million. The difference of $4.1 million was for other works which should have been included in another cost item of the project. The total project estimate, however, remained unchanged. He added that, an information note would be forwarded to members shortly in response to a member's query at the last meeting on the construction cost of the lift under project 125TB and the aforesaid error would be clarified therein.

20. Another member queried the following substantial difference between this project 124TB and a similar project 125TB in the apportionment of "consultant's fees" which he considered incompatible:

Consultant's fees($ million)($ million)
(i) construction stage1.15.4
(ii) resident site staff4.81.1

DHy undertook to provide further clarification. He also advised that the same consultant would be engaged for supervising the two projects, which would be tendered under one construction contract. (Post-meeting note: The consultant's fees for project 125TB should be $1.1 million at the (i) construction stage and $5.4 million for (ii) resident site staff costs. Members have been advised of the error and the correct figures vide information note PWSCI(98-99)19 issued on 13 November 1998.) Admin.

21. In reply to a member, DHy advised that the future Tsim Sha Tsui station of the East Rail Extension from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui would be located at Middle Road. The option of locating the station at the junction between Salisbury Road and Kowloon Park Drive had been rejected. Hence, the proposed pedestrian subway would not be affected by works for the East Rail Extension.

22. Addressing a member's concern about the impact of the proposed works on the existing subway crossing the Kowloon Park Drive, DHy advised that the latter would be affected only when the connection works were carried out, and during this period, access to the existing subway would be maintained.

23. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)35 - 711TH - Route 9 between Tsing Yi and Cheung Sha Wan

24. In response to a member's enquiry about the scope of the proposed consultancy for the detailed design of the project, DHy advised that the section of Route 9 in question was a strategic highway to cater for through traffic between the Northeast New Territories and the West New Territories. It comprised a few large scale structures including a tunnel crossing Tsing Yi, a long-span bridge connecting Stonecutters Island and Tsing Yi and a viaduct crossing the Stonecutters Island and connecting with Route 16.

25. On members' concerns about the estimated costs of the detailed design and site investigation works, DHy advised that these costs taken together accounted for some 4% of the $9.6 billion project construction cost. He stressed that, on average, such items tended to represent about 8% to 9% of total project costs in highways projects and he did not consider the said estimated 4% to be exceptionally high.

26.With regard to a member's request for additional information on the job specification of the proposed consultancy, the Chairman suggested and DHy agreed to provide the consultancy brief which contained such details for reference by members who were interested. DHy added that upon approval of the present proposal, the consultancy brief would be submitted to the Engineering and Associated Consultants Selection Board for approval before inviting Technical and Fee Proposals from consultants. In this context, members noted that the estimates contained in the paper were for budget purposes only; the actual costs would depend on the prices of the tenders awarded through competitive bidding for both the consultancy services and the site investigation works. Upon award of the consultancy, the selected consultant would work out the detailed road design and configuration of the project. Admin.

27. A member commented that the Subcommittee would be able to better assess the significance and impact of the proposed highways project if given a full picture of the overall transport infrastructure plan for the region. She suggested that more information in this regard should be included in future proposals for major highways projects. In response, DHy referred to the footnotes of the paper which contained brief information on the impact of Route 9 on the overall transport network in the region and on the connecting trunk roads. He also recalled that the relevant Panel had been briefed on the broader transport plans for the region. In this connection, the Chairman suggested that if the general background and wider policy aspects of public works items had been discussed at a relevant Panel, it would be useful for the Administration to indicate, where relevant and practicable, in its submissions that there had been such consultation. The Administration agreed to consider the Chairman's suggestion. Admin.

28. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Revision in scope/approved estimate of a project in Category A


PWSC(98-99)38 - 0194CL -Peng Chau development, package 3, stage 2 engineering works

29. In reply to a member, DTD confirmed that Tung Wan was not a gazetted beach. The member commented that the beach had been abusively used as a waste dumping site. If the situation was not rectified, the purpose of providing a landscaped promenade along the beach under this project would be defeated. He suggested that for the benefit of local residents and visitors, the Administration should consider upgrading the beach to a gazetted beach, so that proper management and facilities would be provided. DTD agreed to follow up the member's suggestion in consultation with the relevant departments. Admin.

30. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)40 - 26EF - Science Building Complex, phase I (CUHK)

31. Noting that the construction works of the project were nearly completed and that the tender prices for the works contracts of the project were already known by the second quarter of 1996, members asked why the proposal for an increase in project estimates had not been submitted earlier. In response, the Chief Technical Advisor/Subvented Projects, Architectural Services Department (CTA) acknowledged that the request for additional funds should have been submitted when the tender prices were known. However, as the CUHK had tried to explore ways to make savings so as to reduce the total project cost, the request to increase the approved estimate had not been made prior to acceptance of tenders. He nevertheless assured members that the Administration would make its best efforts to prevent the recurrence of such slippage in future. At the Chairman's request, CTA agreed to provide a written explanation on the delay in submitting the funding request for the Subcommittee's reference, together with information on any savings which had been secured by CUHK. Admin.

32. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(98-99)39 - 44MM - Refurbishment to MacLehose Medical Rehabilitation Centre

33. Members were concerned that the MacLehose Medical Rehabilitation Centre (MMRC) was somewhat run down and facilities and equipment, such as the existing four lifts, would require major overhaul, even though the Centre had only been running for 14 years. In response, the Deputy Director (Hospital Planning and Development), Hospital Authority (DD/HA) acknowledged that the normal serviceable life span of lifts should be longer than 14 years, but due to poor maintenance in the past, the operation of the four lifts in MMRC was far from satisfactory. Having reviewed the situation with the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), it was considered more cost-effective to replace the lifts rather than carrying out repair works. On members' suggestion of reviewing the maintenance and usage practices of the facilities and equipment in the MMRC, DD/HA advised that in general, maintenance of facilities and equipment in former subvented hospitals and medical centres had not been given sufficient attention. After the Hospital Authority (HA) took over their management a preventive approach to maintenance had been adopted and more funding had been allocated for the purpose.

34. Regarding the project management responsibilities, DD/HA advised that HA would engage a consultant for carrying out the detailed design and for supervising the works on site. CTA added that as in the case of other capital subvention projects, ArchSD would monitor the project on behalf of the Government from the preparation of the funding proposal to the finalization of accounts.

35. Having regard to the poor condition of the MMRC, members were concerned that its existing services would be affected. DD/HA acknowledged members' concerns but explained that it was not feasible to reprovision the rehabilitative services being provided at MMRC to other medical centres or hospitals during the works period. In order to maintain the provision of existing services, the refurbishment works would be implemented in phases and environmental mitigation measures would be implemented in the strictest manner to minimize inconvenience to patients and staff. He however took note of members' suggestion that where necessary, some interim measures should be implemented to alleviate the current conditions.

36. In reply to a member, DD/HA confirmed that there would be central air-conditioning for the in-patient wards at MMRC after refurbishment. In view of the humid weather in Hong Kong which was conducive to spreading infections, it was the policy of HA to provide air-conditioning to all in-patient wards in new hospitals and in existing hospitals when refurbishment works were undertaken.

37. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Any other business

38. The Chairman noted that Mr Bowen LEUNG was attending the meeting for the last time as he was leaving the post of SPEL. On behalf of the Subcommittee, he extended his appreciation to Mr Leung for his contributions to the business of the Subcommittee over the years.

39. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:45 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
3 December 1998