LegCo Paper No. PWSC 58/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting
held on Wednesday, 19 February 1997,
at 10:45 am in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :

    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

Members absent :

    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public officers attending :

Mrs Carrie LAM
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)
Mr Canice MAK, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Deputy Secretary for Works (Works Policy)
Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection
Mr James HERD
Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)
Director of Drainage Services
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)
Mr Benny Y K WONG
Assistant Director of Environmental Protection (Waste Facilities)
Mr Alan KAM
Assistant Director of Highways (Major Works)
Mr Anthony LOO
Chief Engineer of Transport Department (Territory Transport Planning)
Mr Carlson CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (4)
Assistant Director of Home Affairs (2)
Director of Territory Development
Deputy Director of Water Supplies

Clerk in attendance:

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

Staff in attendance:

Mrs Vivian KAM
Assistant Secretary General 1
Miss Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

Upgrading of projects to Category A



Shenzhen River improvement works, stage II - remaining works

Some members expressed concern about the polluted state of the Shenzhen River and asked whether mitigation measures would be taken to alleviate the problem. In response, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) advised that the project before members was primarily for flood prevention, and the proposed mitigation measures in the project were intended to control the environmental impacts arising from the improvement works. He added that the pollution of Shenzhen River in general was a long-term problem which would have to be tackled separately through cross-border liaison groups such as the Hong Kong-Guangdong Environmental Protection Liaison Group. The Shenzhen Municipal Government (SZMG) was aware of the problem and was taking measures to improve the situation. To sustain the improvements made to the river, a member suggested that the Hong Kong Government and the Shenzhen River Regulation Office (SZRRO) of SZMG should maintain close liaison and work jointly on river channel maintenance after completion of the project.

2. On the adequacy of environmental monitoring and auditing during the construction period, DDS advised that an Environmental Impact Assessment study had been carried out for the proposed stage II works, and the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) and green groups had endorsed the recommended mitigation measures. The project estimate included a provision of $3.7 million for this purpose. Environmental auditing and monitoring would be carried out under the surveillance of the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWF) and other concerned green groups. In reply to a member, DDS confirmed that the project would have no adverse impact on the Mai Po Reserve.

3. A member pointed out that retention of the old Lok Ma Chau river bend might cause environmental problems. In response, DDS advised that this had been the subject of lengthy consultation with environmental groups. In the course of those discussions, it had been decided that the old river bend should be retained. Ecological restoration works would be carried out under the project to compensate for the loss of fishponds and mangroves arising from the stage I works in the area. In addition, an embankment would be constructed to prevent any overflow from the river reaching the Lok Ma Chau Spoil Disposal Area located between the old and new river channels.

4. Noting that the stage II works would be entrusted to the Shenzhen side, some members enquired about the quality of works completed under stage I. In reply, DDS advised that there had been good cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and the stage I works had been completed on time and within budget. In view of this, he was confident that the entrustment arrangements for stage II would work equally well.

5. With regard to the arrangements for dealing with claims from contractors, DDS advised that as the works contracts should be jointly supervised by the Hong Kong Government and the SZMG. Any costs arising from contractual claims would be shared by the two governments. The duties and obligations of each side including arrangements for funding and contract management would be clearly set out in the contract documentation. The entrustment arrangements had worked well so far and there had been no financial complications in respect of the stage I contracts. In reply to members, DDS further advised that contracts would be awarded by open tender and approved contractors in both Hong Kong and Shenzhen could bid for the work. Keen competition for stage II tenders was anticipated, as had been the case with the Stage I works. So far, 14 contractors had expressed interest in the project.

6. While members generally supported the proposal, they urged the Government to expedite the remaining phases of the project to provide early relief from the flooding and pollution problems associated with the Shenzhen River.

7. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Bulk waste reduction - consultants’ fees and investigation, phase II

8. Members generally welcomed the proposal for introducing waste-to-energy incineration facilities in Hong Kong. Some members had reservations about the feasibility of selling electricity generated during the waste incineration process, given the current generation capacity and high reserve margin of the China Light and Power Company Limited. They also asked whether the Administration’s agreements with the two power companies in Hong Kong had any legal implications for the sale of such electricity. In response, the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) advised that the proposed feasibility study would cover all aspects of building and operating waste-to-energy incinerators in Hong Kong including any arrangements that might be made for the sale of electricity generated by the incinerators. The Chairman remarked that the Administration had confirmed previously that under the present scheme of control agreements, the two power companies did not enjoy exclusive rights to supply electricity in the territory.

9. Responding to the question of whether the proposal should proceed if there was no demand for the energy so produced, DEP advised that given the projected increase in the amount of solid waste in Hong Kong and the fact that Hong Kong was rapidly running out of landfill space, it would be necessary to put in place some form of waste reduction facilities to address this problem. Income from electricity sales would help to offset the cost of the incinerators, but regardless to whatever extent this may occur, waste-to-energy incineration was considered to be an option worth pursuing at this stage. A member questioned the viability of using the electricity generated by waste incineration for district heating or cooling purposes, as proposed in paragraph 8 of the discussion paper. DEP advised that there should be no insuperable technical difficulties in this respect, but the cost-effectiveness of such an exercise would depend on the physical location of the incinerators. In response to a question regarding the reasons for taking the project forward ahead of public consultation exercise on the Draft Waste Reduction Plan, DEP advised that the proposed feasibility study had been accorded priority in view of the need to take early action to reduce the volume of waste requiring disposal at landfills. The public and concerned organisations had been consulted separately on waste-to-energy incineration and they were in support of the proposals in principle.

10. On the location of waste incinerators, members were of the view that these should be located some distance from residential developments. Other possible locations could include sites adjacent to landfills or close to obnoxious industries.

11. On the need to engage consultants for the study, DEP advised that as the department had insufficient in-house resources to carry out the study, it would be necessary to entrust the project to consultants.

12. In reply to a member, DEP advised that the disposal of municipal waste and clinical waste required different processes and it would not be cost-effective to have an integrated system for municipal and clinical waste.

13. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Route 16 from West Kowloon to Shatin

14. On behalf of the Democratic Party, Mr Zachary WONG Wai-yin urged the Government to speed up the construction of Route 16 in order to alleviate traffic congestion between Shatin and Kowloon. He also enquired whether public bus interchanges would be provided at or near the toll plaza as part of the Route 16 project.


15. In response, the Assistant Director of Highways (AD/Hy) advised that the proposed consultancy would look into the feasibility of providing public transport interchange facilities at the toll plaza area. He undertook to provide further details on this matter, before the item was put to the Finance Committee for consideration.

16. A member sought clarification on the project scope as there was some ambiguity in the paper as to whether the proposal included funding for preliminary design work. In response, AD/Hy confirmed that the proposed consultancy included both detailed investigation and preliminary design work. On completion of the study, the Government would commission a further consultancy to work on the detailed design work for Route 16. In response to the member, AD/Hy further advised that the feasibility of awarding a ‘design and build’ contract for Route 16 would be considered after the investigation stage of the consultancy in the light of the information available at the time. He added that a financial study completed in 1995 had concluded that a ‘build, operate and transfer’ (BOT) option for Route 16 would not be viable.


17. Noting that construction of the proposed Route 16 would only be completed by the year 2004, a member expressed concern about the traffic congestion in the interim period. In reply, AD/Hy and the Chief Engineer of Transport Department advised that, with the opening of Route 3 in 1998, the traffic conditions at Lion Rock Tunnel and Tate’s Cairn Tunnel would be much improved. To alleviate forecast traffic congestion beyond the year 2001, the proposed study would investigate and recommend traffic mitigation measures for the period from 2001 until the completion of Route 16. The Chairman advised that the subject on interim traffic mitigation measures in this regard could be followed up by the LegCo Panel on Transport.

18. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Village improvements and development schemes in the New Territories


Improvement, reconstruction and extension of village access roads in the New Territories


19. In reply to a member, the Assistant Director of Home Affairs (AD/HA) advised that the implementation of minor projects under the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy (RPIS) had been accelerated since the Home Affairs Department took over the administration and coordination of the programme in 1994. In this respect, he noted members’ comments that the Government should expedite infrastructural improvement works in rural areas, particularly those areas without utilities and basic amenities. At the request of a member, the Administration undertook to provide further information on rural areas which did not have electricity and water supply, and the timetable for introducing improvements to such areas.

20. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Local public works in the rural New Territories

21. In response to a member’s question, AD/HA advised that improvement works requested by villagers of Yuen Long had been included in paper PWSC(96-97)100, and therefore were not covered by paper PWSC(96-97)99.


22. At a member’s request, the Administration again undertook to provide further information on rural areas which did not have electricity and water supply, and the timetable for introducing improvements to these areas.

23. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Siu Sai Wan development - works, remaining stages


24. A member commented that the construction costs for footbridges were often on the high side. He suggested that the Administration should consider more cost-effective designs for footbridges. In response, the Director of Territory Development explained that the estimates for the two footbridges under discussion were reasonable having regard to the site conditions and the layout of the footbridges. The unit cost in each case was similar to other footbridges in the territory. The Chairman suggested that the design and construction costs of footbridges could be further discussed by the relevant LegCo Panel.

25. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Tsing Yi development - water supply, stage IV

26. In reply to a member, the Deputy Director of Water Supplies confirmed that the Administration had taken into account the demand arising from hotel and ancillary developments of Terminal No. 9 in the forecast of the water demand for Tsing Yi Island.

27. The item was voted on and endorsed.

28. The Committee was adjourned at 12:00 noon.

Legislative Council Secretariat
18 March 1997

Last Updated on 16 August 1999