Public Works Subcommittee

Record of Meeting held on 24 January 1996 at 10:45 am
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling


    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

In attendance for specific items:

Mr T L HSU, JP Deputy Director of Highways
Mr Kenneth CHAN, JP Director of Architectural Services
Miss Annette LEE Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
Mr Anthony TONG Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support)
Mr Keith KWOK, JP Deputy Secretary for Works (Programme & Resources)
Mr Frankie LUI Assistant Director of Regional Services (Special Project)

In attendance:

Mr B P W LEUNG, JP Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Dr S B REED, OBE, JP Director of Environmental Protection
Mr Kevin HO, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Mike ARNOLD Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mr Andy LAU Clerk to the Public Works Subcommittee

Upgrading of projects to Category A



Reconstruction of major roads in the territory, 1995-96 programme

This item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(95-96)79 189EP Primary school in Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom
193EP Second primary school in area 37, Tseung Kwan O

Second primary school in Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom

2. Members noted that the piling costs for 189 EP and 194 EP were worked out on the basis of 110 nos. of steel H-piles of an average depth of 32 metres instead of 90 nos. as set out in Enclosure 4 to the paper. The cost estimates stated in the paper remained unchanged.

3. In response to a Member’s question, the Assistant Director of Education (AD of E) advised that the proposal to build two primary schools in Whampoa Garden at one go was considered desirable, having regard to the cost effectiveness of the proposal and the urgent need to address the shortage of school places in Hung Hom.

4. On the need to engage consultants to undertake contract administration and site supervision for the construction stage, the Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) advised that this was an interim arrangement to absorb the extra workload. As the number of projects under the Public Works Programme varied from year to year, it is more cost effective to engage consultants to provide short term relief rather than to create additional posts within the Government which might become redundant at a later stage.

5. In reply to a Member, AD of E confirmed that locker facilities and drinking fountains were standard provisions in primary and secondary schools. As for the increase in the project estimates for the school buildings in the current proposal, D Arch S advised that this was attributable to the adoption of the latest standard design. He also confirmed that 95% of the payments would be settled upon the completion of the projects in 1997-98. The remaining 5% would be paid upon the expiry of the one-year maintenance period. He agreed to provide further information on the actual timetable for the payments to be made in 1997-98.


6. Responding to Members’ question, D Arch S advised that noise barriers would be constructed to reduce the noise level to not exceeding 65 decibels. The related estimates for the proposed school in Tseung Kwan O would be absorbed by other project votes, namely 188CL and 538 TH which catered for the new town development.

7. In response to a Member’s request, AD of E agreed to provide in future papers the running total of the provision of schools places in the respective school zones. He stressed that the information was subject to frequent changes but would provide an overall picture of the demand and shortfall in the specific school zones.


8. This item was voted on and endorsed.



Non-standard primary school in area 2, Tsuen Wan

9. Members raised questions on the choice of site. Some Members considered the site too small for a standard primary school, hence the need to incur extra costs for the non-standard design. Locating the school along Castle Peak Road also necessitated the construction of a 7-metre high retaining structure to provide noise mitigation. Members therefore asked if it was absolutely necessary to build the school in such an undesirable location.

10. In response, AD of E advised that the proposed site had been reserved many years ago when much smaller sites were required for the building of schools. The Administration had also examined the compatibility of the land use when they formulated the Layout Plan for the area. With improvement in standards over the years, the site might compare unfavourably with current requirements for a standard primary school. Moreover due to the increase in traffic flow and changes of land use over the years, the environment surrounding the school site might have changed. It was not unusual to re-zone or reshuffle land use where appropriate to ensure compatibility of land use in the area. But in the present case, in view of the serious shortage of school places in the school zone where no other suitable sites were available, and the fact that difficulties on site limitations and environmental impact could be overcome, the proposed location was considered appropriate for the purpose. AD of E stressed that although the area of the site was only 3 410 square metres, its regular shape had facilitated the design to meet the requirements of a primary school.

11. As for the high project cost, D Arch S explained that due to the adoption of a non-standard design, separate consultancy services for architectural, structural engineering and quantity surveying were required. The project estimates also included the provision of retaining walls and pumping facilities for discharging waste which were not normally required. He agreed to provide further information on whether the annual recurrent cost of $13.6 million included the operating expenses of the pumping facilities.


12. A Member expressed grave concern about the serious shortage of school places in school zone 304 and queried why the Administration only provided one primary school in this area with a shortage of school places of 98 classes whereas two primary school were proposed to be built in the earlier paper where there was only a shortage of 63 classes. In reply, AD of E advised that in considering the need for the provision of additional schools, the Administration took into account the demand for school places in the district as well as individual parents’ choice of schools and the availability of suitable sites. In the present case, the feasibility of providing another primary school in the vicinity of the Phase II Development of Lai Shing by 1998 was being actively pursued.

13. Members pointed out that in view of the urgent need for the school places in the area, they would not object to the present proposal. However they urged that in planning school facilities, the Administration should consider reserving sites which were larger than the minimum requirement so that the school would be free from unnecessary nuisances.


14. This item was voted on and endorsed.



School Improvement Programme - Phase 3 (government schools)

15. In response to a Member, AD of E advised that Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the School Improvement Programme covered mainly the older schools which were built with non-standard design and by private architects where the Administration did not have complete records of the layout plans. It was therefore necessary to conduct detailed site investigations for the structure and components of the building before they could ascertain whether the site was suitable and safe for improvement works. Following the feasibility studies in Phase 1, 22 schools were found not suitable for improvement and another 16 schools were then incorporated in the Programme as replacement. As regards these 22 schools, the Administration would explore at a later stage to see if the number of classes in these schools could be reduced so as to make room for the improvement works to be carried out. The current timetable was to ensure that the improvement works for all secondary schools would be completed by 2001, and all primary schools by 2003.

16. This item was voted on and endorsed.



Sheung Shui slaughterhouse

17. Members questioned the need for the Government to shoulder the construction costs and the subsequent maintenance of the building structure. Some Members pointed out that the operator could be asked to be responsible for part of these costs, particularly in respect of the daily maintenance of the building. Members stressed that since the operation of the slaughterhouse would be put under a management contract, it might be more appropriate to consider alternative arrangements so that there would be minimum cash outlay from the public purse and tenderers could take into account their financial responsibilities when putting up their bids. There was insufficient information in the paper to suggest that the current proposal was the most cost-effective arrangement.

18. In response, the Assistant Director of Regional Services (AD/RS) advised that the operation of a slaughterhouse was not a particularly profit-making business. At present, the Cheung Sha Wan Abattoir, which was operated by the Urban Council, ran at an annual deficit of over $100 million. Against this background, the current proposal was already an arrangement which would save taxpayers’ money. The Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse would remain a Government facility. It was therefore considered appropriate for the Government to bear the annual maintenance costs for the building structure. Under the proposed arrangement, the Government would benefit from the profits made by the operator. The tenderers would be required to submit a business plan indicating both the percentage of income which they were prepared to share with the Government as well as a proposed fixed lump-sum rental. The Administration would draw on the annual highest value amongst the two for revenue collection purpose. Through this mechanism, a reasonable return could be safeguarded.

19. Members noted that a total of $131 million would be spent on environmental improvements associated with the construction of the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse and questioned why similar improvement measures were not put in place for the Tsuen Wan slaughterhouse. The Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) advised that at the time the Tsuen Wan slaughterhouse was constructed, the operator had made suitable provision to comply with the environmental standards prevailing at that time. A lot of confusion and difficulties would be caused if the operator was required to upgrade the facilities every time when the environmental standard was revised. Under the current planning standards, new environmental standards would only apply to new facilities. The Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) added that the Administration would be working closely on the effective means to resolve the problems at the Tsuen Wan slaughterhouse. The feasibility of adjusting operational procedures or locating an alternative route for the transport of pigs would also be explored.

20. Referring to the environmental implications of the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse, SPEL advised that there would not be any high density development in the vicinity of the new facility. D Arch S added that the findings of the preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment study also confirmed that there would not be any insurmountable environmental problems affecting the neighbourhood areas. Environmental specialists would be actively taking part at various stages of the project to ensure that nuisances would be kept within established standards. The Administration would also closely monitor the development of the project to ensure the quality of works.

21. Members expressed concern about the possible contamination of meat in locating the proposed slaughterhouse next to a Sewage Treatment Plant. They asked if the Administration would be prepared to carry out a detailed assessment study on this question. In reply, AD/RS advised that the Department of Health had been consulted and they considered that the potential risk of meat being contaminated by the airborne micro-organisms from the sewage treatment plant would be minimal. An assessment made at this stage before the slaughterhouse was constructed and went into operation might not give accurate and meaningful results. He would provide further information on the advice given by the Department of Health. D Arch S added that the meat despatch centre would be built under cover and a 3-metre high boundary wall with plenty of large trees would be constructed to segregate the meat despatch centre from the Sewage Treatment Plant. The ventilation system could also be controlled to avoid the intake of air from the direction of the Sewage Treatment Plant. He emphasised that there should not be any adverse impact on staff working in the vicinity of a Sewage Treatment Plant.


22. On the choice of site, AD/RS explained that the site at Sheung Shui was selected in view of it remoteness from major residential areas and its proximity to the Kowloon Canton Railway which facilitate the direct delivery of food animals from China and save the need to transport them through the urban areas, thereby minimising the environmental nuisances caused.

23. On the use of a novation contractual arrangement, D Arch S advised that the Administration would retain tight control over the quality of design by requiring detailed specifications on the design to be included in the tender document. Independent checkers employed by the contractor under the contract would be responsible for ensuring the approval of drawings in accordance with the programme of works. Apart from this, the Architectural Services Department (ASD) would supervise every stage of works and ensure that the standards were in compliance with the requirements. In this respect, ASD would employ separate Clerks of Works to work hand in hand with the professionals.

24. Whilst Members welcomed the Administration’s move to award the management contract for the new slaughterhouse by way of an open tender, they criticized the Administration for not taking the initiative at the outset. On whether local experience would be a major factor in determining the final award of the management contract, AD/RD advised that they would expect the tenderer to have some knowledge about the local operation but in terms of weighting, it would only be in the region of 10% against the overall selection criteria.

25. On whether a veterinary surgeon would be stationed in the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse, AD/RS agreed to provide further information in writing regarding the present arrangements in the existing slaughterhouses.


26. After discussion, Members were still not convinced that the proposed site was suitable for the handling of fresh meat given its proximity to the Sewage Treatment Plant. There was also insufficient information to indicate that the proposed management contract arrangement was cost-effective from the public expenditure point of view. Some Members also felt strongly that a concrete environmental improvement plan should be drawn up for the Tsuen Wan sluaghterhouse consistent with the standards recommended for the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse. In the circumstances, Members suggested that the paper should be deferred until these questions had been addressed. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Works gave a summary of the replies to the questions raised by Members. As Members’ concerns had been fully addressed and in order to avoid delays to the project, he asked Members to support the proposal.

27. The Committee voted on the proposal and it was negatived.

28. The Committee was adjourned at 1.05 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
8 February 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998