Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. PWSC 74
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee of the
Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
on Wednesday, 21 January 1998, at 10:45 am

Members present:

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Members absent :

Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Public officers attending :

Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Secretary for Works

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

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

Director of Architectural Services

Ms Ellen CHOY
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)

Assistant Director of Education (Allocation and Support)

Project Manager/2, Housing Department

Mrs Sarah KWOK
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (B)

Chief Fire Officer (Headquarters)

Chief Property Manager (Estate Development), Government Property Agency

Project Manager/N.T. West, Territory Development Department

Mr Johnny CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Director of Water Supplies

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

Mr Jack CHAN
Deputy Secretary (1) of University Grants Committee

Dr FUNG Hong
Deputy Director of Hospital Authority (Hospital Planning & Development)

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

Director of Drainage Services
Clerk in attendance:

Miss Odelia LEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8


Upgrading of projects to Category A




Secondary school in area 31, Tung Chung

Members asked whether the facilities in the new school would support the various initiatives regarding information technology (IT) in education as set out in the Chief Executive's Policy Address. They considered that the installation of IT facilities in schools should focus on promoting IT as a learning tool rather than as a specific subject. A member opined that in the foreseeable future, the popularity of computer-assisted learning might render the present design and provision of computer facilities in secondary schools, which required students to go to special rooms for using computers, outdated.

2. In response, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2) (PAS/E&M(2)) advised that the proposed secondary school would adopt the latest design and have adequate facilities to implement the initiatives in IT in education. Indeed Government would be focusing on promoting use of IT as a teaching and learning tool rather than as a specific subject. Other than one computer room for teaching of computer subjects, the new school would have two computer-assisted learning rooms for learning of other subjects through computers. The school would have the flexibility to install computers in these rooms and/or classrooms/special rooms. Nevertheless, the Administration took note of the member's comments on future developments in IT in education.

3. In reply to a member, the Project Manager/2, Housing Department confirmed that the proposed secondary school, which was scheduled for completion in August 2000, could meet the need of the future population in Tung Chung Areas 30 and 31.

4. The item was voted on and endorsed.



Victoria Road standard 3-bay fire station

5. The Chief Fire Officer (Headquarters) (CFO(HQ)) advised in response to members that the high gradient of the roads in the area would not pose any problem to the fire engines which would be stationed at the proposed fire station. They could climb uphill and reach the Queen Mary Hospital directly through Sassoon Road. The average response time within the service area was expected to be shortened from the present 6.5 minutes to 4 minutes.

6. On the staffing implication of the proposed fire station, CFO(HQ) advised that the Fire Services Department would deploy operational staff in consideration of the population size and the level of fire hazard of the district concerned. According to a tentative deployment plan, two fire engines would be on call at the proposed fire station, but a review would be conducted nearer the completion of works on the actual requirement. Of the estimated annual recurrent expenditure of $11.54 million for the station, staff cost accounted for about $9.7 million.

7. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Route 5 - section between Shek Wai Kok and Chai Wan Kok

8. Noting that the preliminary design of the road scheme was done in-house, a member queried why the detailed design could not be done in the same manner to save the unnecessary cost and time for engaging an outside consultant. He expressed concern about the extent of consultancy work commissioned by the government in undertaking works which could be carried out in-house. Project Manager/N.T. West (PM/NTW) explained that the proposed road section would be a very complex design due to various factors such as proximity to residential developments, the need to traverse a Mass Transit Railway depot, re-routing of underground utilities, and the need to mitigate noise impact. In view of the complexity of the road scheme, he considered it justifiable to engage a consultant. He felt the contract period of 18 months for the proposed consultancy reasonable. He also confirmed that no further consultancy would be required for the project. The Secretary for Works (S for W) added that given the site constraints, even if there were sufficient in-house resources to carry out the detailed design, the time required would be about the same. The Administration agreed to provide further information on the cost of the preliminary design which was done in-house. Members noted that a preliminary estimate of the construction cost for the project was $1 billion. Admin

9. A member expressed her dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the proposed project. She noted that the Traffic and Transport Committee of the Tsuen Wan District Board was consulted in March and July 1993 on the preliminary design but it was not until February 1995 that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study was completed. Another 26 months were taken in dealing with the objection to the proposed road project. With the proposed road section targeted for completion in 2006, it would mean a total of 16 years was required for the construction of a 3-kilometre road section and related facilities. She enquired if there had been slippages at any of the planning stages. Given that the local road junctions in the area were already operating at full capacity during peak hours, she called on the Administration to introduce interim measures to ease off traffic before the commissioning of the proposed road section.

10. Regarding the progress of the EIA study, PM/NTW explained that after consulting the then Tsuen Wan District Board on the preliminary layout of the road section, the Administration immediately took the matter forward by going through the standard procedures for commissioning consultants for the EIA study. Although the road section was only about 3 kilometres long, its routing and design was complicated. He confirmed that there had been no slippage in the course of the EIA study. In response to members, The Administration agreed to provide information on the cost of the EIA study. Admin

11. PAS/T(5) supplemented in response to a member that in light of the objections from the Tang Clan, the then Governor-in-Council had authorized the road scheme with modifications such that a footpath would be added on the top of a section of the retaining wall near the Tang Clan ancestral graves. The Tang Clan considered this arrangement acceptable. The Administration had formally written to the Tang Clan objectors upon authorisation of the road scheme with modifications, and had not received any further comments.

12. S for W explained that the Administration noted the exceptionally long time taken to deal with objections after gazettal of the road scheme. This was mainly due to the objections lodged by members of the Tang Clan on the ground of fung shui because the road scheme was said to encroach on their ancestral graves. As the titles to the graves were dispersed and some title holders resided overseas, the Administration had encountered much difficulty in negotiating with the parties concerned. S for W and PAS/T(5) informed members that to speed up the objection resolution process in future road projects, the Secretary for Transport would introduce the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill to the Provisional Legislative Council on 21 January 1998 to stipulate a statutory time limit for dealing with objections lodged under the principal ordinance.

13. In respect of the legislative proposal to limit the time for handling objections to gazetted road schemes, members opined that the Administration should also review other procedures in respect of road projects to avoid unnecessary delays and consider conducting certain processes in parallel where possible. S for W responded that to meet the Government's housing pledge, the Administration had been actively reviewing the various procedures involved in the planning and implementation of transport infrastructure projects, with a view to simplifying and fast-tracking them.

14. Addressing members’ concerns about the need for interim measures to deal with traffic congestion, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5) (PAS/T(5)) advised that under the initial planning, the proposed section of Route 5 needed to be in place by early 2000s’ to meet traffic demand. The department had kept in view the traffic growth in Tsuen Wan and noted that the pace of development in the district had generated heavier traffic flows than originally envisaged. He assured members that the Transport Department had kept in view the traffic growth in Tsuen Wan, and would actively explore necessary interim measures to contain congestion in the district. In this connection, a member enquired about the impact of the commissioning of Route 3 on the proposed road scheme. PAS/T(5) responded that the commissioning of Route 3 in mid-1998 would divert some traffic flows between Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun away from the road network in Tsuen Wan, but the extent of this impact could only be assessed after the commissioning of Route 3. Notwithstanding the opening of Route 3, Route 5 would still be of strategic importance for providing through traffic from Sha Tin via Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun.

15. The item was voted on and endorsed.




Improvement to chlorine facilities at Aberdeen, Eastern, Shek Lei Pui and Tai Po Road treatment works

16. Responding to a member's enquiry as to why the hazard assessment study had taken two years to complete, the Director of Water Supplies (DWS) advised that the duration was reasonable as the study covered the gathering of detailed information on wind directions, weather, on-site characteristics and developments in the vicinity in respect of each of the four treatment works. At the member's request, the Administration agreed to provide information on the cost of the consultancy, the assistance provided by Government departments to the consultant and the amount of resources so incurred. Admin

17. Members questioned how the safety standard could be enhanced by converting the present one tonne chlorine drums to 50 kilograms cylinder installations. DWS explained that the volume of a 50 kilogram cylinder was only one-twentieth of that of a one tonne chlorine drum and as such, the amount of leakage would be significantly reduced in any accident. The conversion was recommended for the Aberdeen and the Eastern water treatment works only because of their close proximity to residential areas. DWS assured members that there were no doubts about the basic safety standards of all the four treatment works and the proposed improvements only aimed at enhancing the existing standards.

18. Referring to paragraph 9 of the paper which stated that the project by itself would not lead to an increase in water charges, a member noted with concern that such information was misleading as water services were provided on the principle of cost-recovery and the expenditure in this project would eventually be reflected in the water charges. DWS agreed that any recurrent costs incurred would be recoverable but these were so insignificant the effect on water charges would be negligible. Nevertheless, the Administration noted the member's concern.

19. The item was voted on and endorsed.

New commitments/Changes in commitments for subvented projects




Student hostel (Lingnan College)

20. A member noted with concern the revised project estimates in respect of building works and building services works. Although there was a net reduction of over $8 million from the cost estimates in respect of area and site development works, the approved project estimate was still insufficient for the completion of the project. He enquired about the present status of the project and questioned whether the additional works due to changes in statutory requirements and the extension of telephone cables should have been foreseen when the initial project estimates were made.

21. The Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) advised in response that the project had been completed and students had already moved into the hostel. The proposed increase in the approved project estimate was necessary to meet the outstanding payments to the contractor. He further explained that when the project was approved in 1993, very limited information on the site conditions was available. Following a detailed survey on the site conditions, the University Grants Committee (UGC) decided to adopt a more economical piling system than originally planned, resulting in a saving of $6.567 million. Another $9.763 million was saved by adopting lower standards for external development works. However, owing to the enactment of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance in 1995, it had become necessary to undertake additional building works to meet the new statutory requirements in respect of fire safety; and additional costs of $1.815 million had been incurred in this respect. As regards the extension of telephone cables from the corridors to all habitable rooms in the hostel, the Deputy Secretary General (1)/UGC advised that telephone cables for individual student rooms were not a standard provision in 1993 but had become so now in line with the general technological and social development in Hong Kong. The provision of such basic facilities was necessary to enable students to use computers and internet services. D Arch S confirmed that an increase of around $2.5 million was needed for electrical installations because of the initial under-estimation in the original planning. He confirmed that the standards of provision in the hostel were in line with those in other universities.

22. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(97-98)106 27MM Lai King Hospital

23. The item was voted on and endorsed.

12MD Kwong Wah Hospital - Low block extension

24. The item was voted on and endorsed.

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


PWSC(97-98)100 282DS Central, Western and Wan Chai West sewerage, stage I works

25. In response to a member's concern about the marked increase in the revised estimate for interceptor and reticulation sewers, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) explained that the project was the first one of such a magnitude in congested areas, which were characterised by hilly terrains and busy single-lane carriageways in both commercial and residential areas. Since nearly every road in Central, the Mid-levels and Wan Chai West would be affected, the Administration had to impose very strict control over the contractors’ method of working in order to minimize adverse impact on traffic and to meet stringent environmental requirements. These requirements in turn increased the tender prices. The revised estimate was based on recent tender prices for contracts of a similar nature in West Kowloon, under which the rate for constructing interceptor and reticulation sewers was more than double the initial estimate of $8,000 per metre of sewers. At the member's request, the Administration agreed to provide information on the locations of interceptor and reticulation sewers. Admin

26. As regards the increase in consultants’ fees for the construction stage, DDS advised that the increase was mainly due to the extension of roughly 10 months of the contract, which was attributed to re-tendering of the contract for interceptor and reticulation sewers. A longer contract duration necessitated a corresponding extension of the employment of resident site staff and hence an increase in costs.

27. Referring to the experience in the West Kowloon sewerage works, a member opined that the Administration must exercise stringent control over the progress of works to avoid unnecessary delays and should advise contractors, where possible, to carry out certain works in parallel. Temporary measures were also necessary to mitigate adverse traffic impact during construction.

28. DDS shared the member's concern over the need to maintain smooth traffic-flow. He elaborated that in order to regulate the extent of road openings in an area at any one time, the works would be divided into a number of smaller sections for better management. The contractors would be allowed two to three weeks to complete the works for a section of sewer about 20 to 40 metres in length. Upon satisfactory completion of a section, they would be required to close up the road openings before proceeding to the next section. DDS assured members that the resident site staff would exercise vigilant supervision and any section of completed works would be certified expeditiously. Although additional controls would inevitably lengthen the construction time, the public would be able to see the progress of the works and there would be better management of traffic. Such effects had been evident in the sewer works currently undertaken in Central and Western. As a result, very few public complaints about these works had been received.

29. The item was voted on and endorsed.

30. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:15 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
20 February 1998