Legislative Council Panel on Transport
Proposed Amendments to Tunnel Legislation
This paper serves to inform Members of the intention of the Administration to introduce the following proposal for legislative amendments into the Legislative Council -
EXPIRY OF CHT FRANCHISE
- Road Tunnels (Government) (Amendment) Bill 1999 to prepare for the expiry of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (CHT) franchise; and
- Road Tunnel Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 1999 to achieve consistency in procedural matters relating to the prosecution of offences in private and government tunnels as well as rectification of the payment arrangement to the operators of government tunnels.
2. The operation and management of CHT was awarded to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Company Limited as a build, operate and transfer (BOT) project with a franchise for thirty years. The franchise will expire on 31 August 1999. Under section 52 of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 203), the assets of the Company including the tunnel will vest in Government upon expiry of franchise.
3. On 20 October 1998, the Chief Executive in Council decided that a management, operation and maintenance (MOM) contract for a duration of two years, with an option for Government to extend for a further year, should be awarded through open tender for the management of CHT after it reverts to Government. The tender selection exercise is underway and the successful tenderer will take over the management of CHT on 1 September 1999.
4. Members are aware that the Revenue Bill tabled on 21 April 1999 has provided for the application of the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap.368) to CHT and set out the tolls for the use of CHT by different types of vehicles with effect from 1 September 1999. Consequentially, it also seeks to repeal the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap.203) as well as the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Passage Tax) Ordinance (Cap.274)
5. To cater for the operational requirements specific to CHT after its reversion to Government, the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance will have to be suitably amended. This will be achieved by the Road Tunnels (Government) (Amendment) Bill 1999.
Road Tunnels (Government) (Amendment) Bill 1999
6. The key features of this Bill are as follows :-
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO OTHER TUNNEL LEGISLATION
- to put in place enabling powers under section 20 of the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) for the CE in Council to make regulations specifically for CHT; and
- to make certain regulations applying specially to CHT under the Road Tunnels (Government) Regulations, including the enactment of traffic signs applicable only to CHT to avoid the need to replace the signs overnight and cause interruption to traffic.
7. Existing BOT tunnels are governed by their respective ordinances enacted at different points in time. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 203) is the earliest BOT tunnel legislation and will be repealed with effect from 1 September 1999 when the franchise expires. The remaining of the four BOT tunnel Ordinances are: Eastern Harbour Crossing Ordinance (Cap. 215), Tate's Cairn Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 393), Western Harbour Crossing Ordinance (Cap. 436) and Tai Lam Tunnel & Yuen Long Approach Road Ordinance (Cap. 474). As regards government tunnels, they are governed by the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368). The latest legislation on government tolled road/tunnel is the Tsing Ma Control Area Ordinance (Cap. 498) which was enacted in January 1997.
8. We have recently conducted a review of the ordinances for BOT and government tunnels and identified a number of areas concerning the prosecution of traffic offences which need to be updated. This will be achieved by the Road Tunnel Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1999. The opportunity is also taken to rectify the arrangement for the payment of management fees for government tunnels.
Road Tunnels Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1999
9. This Bill will seek to :-
- extend the period, from three months to six months after the date of an alleged offence in the tunnel area, within which a tunnel officer may demand any person to give information as to the driver suspected of the offence, and make it an offence for the person so demanded to make false statements or omit material particulars;
- enable the admission of certificates of image recording and printing device and certificates of photographic processing as evidence in legal proceedings to assist the BOT tunnel operators in proving toll evasion and speeding;
- amend the Third Schedule of the Magistrates Ordinance (Cap.227) to allow drivers who have committed an offence under the Tai Lam Tunnel and Yuen Long Approach Road By-laws (Cap.474 sub. leg.) to plead guilty by letter if the fine on conviction of such offences is less than $2,000; and
- provide for the retention by the contractors of Government tunnels under the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance of their management fees from the proceeds of the toll collected.
10. Members are invited to note the proposed amendments to tunnel legislation as set out in paragraphs 6 and 9 above.
21 April 1999