LC Paper No. PWSC 7/98-99
(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 second meeting
Members present :
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
on Wednesday, 22 July 1998, at 10:50 am
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 Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Member attending :
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Public officers attending :
- Miss Emma LAU
- Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)
- Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
- Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
- Mr H S KWONG, JP
- Secretary for Works
- Mr Mike STOKOE, JP
- Director of Environmental Protection
- Mr James HERD
- Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)
- Mr P L KWAN
- Director of Architectural Services
- Mr Nicholas YEK, JP
- Judiciary Administrator
- Miss Eliza YAU
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Medical 1)
- Dr Cindy LAI
- Assistant Director of Health (Health Administration & Planning)
- Mr K L CHUNG, JP
- Director of Drainage Services
- Mr Bernard LAM, JP
- Director of Civil Engineering
- Mr K S LEUNG, JP
- Director of Highways
- Ms Linda SO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)
- Mr LEE Shing-see, JP
- Director of Territory Development
- Mr M L WAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Project Management)
- Ms Michelle LI
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)
- Mr Jack CHAN
- Deputy Secretary-General (1), University Grants Committee
- Mr M F KO
- Chief Technical Advisor/Subvented Projects, Architectural Services Department
Clerk in attendance:
- Miss Odelia LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance:
PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMME
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Miss Polly YEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3
- Ms Anita SIT
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8
Upgrading of projects to Category A
HEAD 703 - BUILDINGS
Fanling Magistracy Building
Whilst agreeing that the present 2-storey Fanling Magistracy Building (FMB) was grossly inadequate to meet current court service needs, members were concerned about possible under-utilisation of facilities in the proposed 11-storey building. In response, the Judiciary Administrator (JA) advised that there were four courtrooms in the existing FMB, of which two were added in 1983 by erecting temporary structures on the adjacent site. Owing to inadequate courtrooms and the technical difficulties of further increasing their number, a number of cases which should be heard at the Fanling Magistracy had to be transferred to the Shatin Magistracy over the years. These transferral cases amounted to an average of 14 per month in 1997, increasing to 30 in 1998. Listing for hearing at the Fanling Magistracy was much longer than that in other magistracies. The present average listing time at the Fanling Magistracy was 52 days, as compared to 30 days at Eastern Magistracy, 37 days at Tuen Mun and 15 days at Shatin Magistracy. JA stressed that although it was difficult to estimate precisely the number of cases to be dealt with by the Fanling Magistracy by the time the new FMB was commissioned, the projected population size in Fanling and Sheung Shui would be comparable to that in other more densely populated districts, such as Eastern, Shatin and Tuen Mun, the magistracies of which were all provided with eight courtrooms. Based on the growth trend of cases in the past, the Administration believed that the facilities in the new FMB should be sufficient to meet court service needs for the next 10 years.
2. On the design of the new FMB, the Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) advised that there would be a fairly spacious lobby and a canteen. The air-conditioning system would have built-in sensors to keep the indoor air temperature at a pre-set level. He noted members comment on the need to provide adequate seats in the lobby and public areas. As regards the design of the juvenile courts in the new FMB, D Arch S assured members that it was modelled on overseas juvenile courts and was different from the existing design of the juvenile courts in other magistracies. The purpose of the design was to provide a friendly and informal environment to the users. JA agreed to provide the estimated number of juvenile cases to be heard in the two juvenile courts in the new FMB before the Finance Committee (FC) meeting on 31 July 1998.
3. Regarding the cost of $20.9 million for furniture and equipment in the new FMB, JA confirmed that the commitment would cover all standard courtroom facilities including audio recording, while video equipment would be provided in some courts. In response to a member's enquiry about the use of December 1997 prices and the impact of the recent slowing-down of economy on the construction unit cost, D Arch S advised that the December 1997 prices were the most up-to-date prices available to standardise the estimated costs of capital works projects. A slight upward trend was observed in the tender price index.
4. On the provision of car parking spaces, JA advised that of the 50 spaces to be provided in the new FMB, 10 would be allocated to the public including legal representatives of litigants. The remaining 40 spaces would be used by the staff of the Magistracy and other Government departments such as Police and Correctional Services Department to meet operational needs. In response to Members query on why more car parking spaces were not planned, D Arch S explained that accessibility by public transport had been taken into account in selecting the site for the new FMB. It was anticipated that more car parking spaces would be available at the proposed regional indoor stadium in the vicinity, which was scheduled for completion at about the same time as the new FMB.
5. Members considered the provision of 10 car parking spaces for public use far short of demand, taking into account the large number of litigants, witnesses and legal representatives visiting the FMB at any one time. One member pointed out that the proposed site was some 15-minutes walk from the Fanling Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) Station. Legal representatives who had to bring along voluminous documents to the Magistracy would have genuine need to use their cars. On the viability of increasing the number of parking spaces, JA advised that in determining the number of car parking spaces to be provided, the Administration had to consider resource implications, security and management problems. D Arch S added that the proposed site could at the most accommodate another 10 parking spaces. He also said that the construction of a covered walkway connecting the Fanling KCR Station with nearby buildings including the new FMB was in the pipeline.
6. Members did not consider that management and security problems were valid grounds for not providing sufficient number of car parking spaces in the new FMB. There was also insufficient information on the criteria for allocating the car parking spaces to different users and how the public could be provided with car parking space. Members requested that such information as well as the viability of increasing more car parking spaces in the proposed site should be provided to the Finance Committee before the paper was considered at the meeting on 31 July 1998. Members also requested that this paper, when put to the Finance Committee for consideration, should be discussed as a separate item.
7. The item was voted on and endorsed. Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Eric LI, Miss Emily LAU, Mr LEE Wing-tat and Mr LI Wah-ming requested that their reservation be recorded.
Public Health Laboratory Centre
8. Members supported in principle the upgrading of laboratory facilities to strengthen the public health functions of the Department of Health (DH). They however sought elaboration in quantifiable terms of the improvements expected to be brought about by the Public Health Laboratory Centre (the Centre).
9. The Assistant Director of Health (Health Administration and Planning) (AD/H(HA&P)) advised that laboratories of the Pathology Service were currently scattered at different locations. The project would enable DH to house most of the laboratories under one roof to enhance efficiency and productivity. The total net floor area of the Pathology Service would increase from about 7 000 to 12 000 square metres, representing an increase of about 60%. With improvement in the provision in space, laboratory facilities could be upgraded to meet the present day requirements and more laboratory tests could be conducted. This would in turn facilitate investigation to be carried out expeditiously and prompt action be taken in response to infectious and food related diseases. Upon the reprovisioning of the existing laboratories, vacated space at the Kowloon Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Yung Fung Shee Memorial Centre and the Institute of Immunology at Victoria Road could be put to other uses.
10. In response to members enquiries on the difference in services to be delivered by the proposed Centre and three laboratories, namely Lek Yuen Health Centre, Tuen Mun Yan Oi Polyclinic and Sai Ying Pun Polyclinic, which would continue to operate after the commissioning of the Centre, AD/H(HA&P) advised that the focus of services of the Centre would be on public health functions of surveillance and control of infectious disease as distinct from clinical functions conducted at the other three centres. Education on public health would be another major service area of the Centre. AD/H(HA&P) clarified in response to a member that from the inception stage, the proposed project was aimed to facilitate DH to perform its public health functions more effectively, and the question of whether management of food hygiene would be taken over by the Administration had not been a relevant factor for consideration.
11. Some members pointed out that there was no critical analysis of the effectiveness of the project from the value-for-money perspective and that the Administration had not categorically quantified the expected areas of improvement to be brought about by the Centre. At members request, AD/H(HA&P) agreed to provide, before the item was put to the Finance Committee for consideration, further information on expected improvements in terms of measurable performance indicators, such as the number of laboratory tests to be carried out, and how DH could improve its service in response to public health incidents as a result of the improved facilities in the Centre. The Administration would also provide information on the space allocation among various services to be accommodated in the Centre including their respective net floor areas.
12. Noting that a wide range of laboratory tests and educational programmes on public health would be conducted in the Centre, members questioned the compatibility of locating these services in the same building as laboratory tests would produce chemical and clinical wastes. Moreover, in view of the proposal to build an elderly home and a kindergarten in the vicinity, members were concerned about the environmental impact of the project and sought information on measures to be introduced to ensure public safety. D Arch S advised that under the present design of the Centre, the laboratories and the facilities accessible to the public such as the multi-purpose hall and conference rooms would be housed in two separate blocks. The management of wastes generated by the Centre, including storage, transportation and disposal, would be in strict compliance with international standards and monitored by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). Inorganic wastes, including fluid discharges, would be treated in a neutralization tank at the rooftop of the Centre before discharge to sewers. Organic wastes would be sealed off in specially designed containers for disposal outside the Centre. Vehicles transporting such wastes would be routed through Nam Cheong Street, bypassing Cornwall Street where the proposed elderly home and kindergarten would be situated. Besides, three-level safety arrangements would be put in place to ensure odourless and harmless air emissions. Laboratory exhausts would be filtered within the laboratories and then at the rooftop of the Centre before being released into the external environment. Should accidents occur inside a laboratory, the ventilation system in the laboratory would be automatically isolated from that of the Centre. Given the small amount of wastes and air emissions to be generated by the Centre and the implementation of comprehensive safety measures, the Administration was confident that the Centre would not pose any hazard to its users or users of the proposed elderly home and kindergarten. Adverse impact on the external environment was also not envisaged.
13. On site selection, AD/H(HA&P) advised that the site had been proposed by the Planning Department in response to DH's specification for a location in the urban area which was easily accessible and available at an early date. Accessibility was very important to ensure expeditious transportation of testing samples and to encourage public participation in the educational programmes to be held at the Centre. As regards the provision of car parking spaces, AD/H(HA&P) advised that the original plan was to provide 112 spaces but the number was reduced to 104 due to design constraints. In the Administration's view, 104 spaces would be sufficient to meet the operational need of the Centre, the staff and the general public. The staff of the Centre would take up about 20 to 30 car parking spaces. The Administration noted members comment on the need to allocate adequate car parking spaces to users of the Centre. In response to a member's query on the responsibility for maintaining the slope situated in the proximity of the project site and the planned site for the elderly home and kindergarten, D Arch S advised that as the majority of the slope work was within the project boundary, it would be funded from the project vote.
14. As regards the timing for the commissioning of the services in the Centre, AD/H(HA&P) advised that taking into account the time needed to purchase, install and test the equipment, the services would be commissioned by phases; the first phase being three to six months and the last phase nine to 12 months after the completion of the construction works. In response to a member's view that the purchase of equipment and the construction works could be done concurrently to expedite the process, AD/H(HA&P) clarified that in view of the large quantity of new equipment to be purchased, the acquisition had to be done by phases. In fact, DH had already started the drawing up of the specifications for some equipment for the purpose of inviting tenders. After purchase, the equipment had to be tested thoroughly to ensure effective and smooth operation.
15. On manpower implications of the expanded laboratory services, AD/H(HA&P) advised that there was an increase in staff over the past few years to support the enhanced services on public health. About 600 staff would work in the proposed Centre. Together with the estimated additional annual recurrent expenditure of $38.04 million due to the project, the total annual recurrent expenditure on services to be provided by the Centre would be $236 million.
16. In reply to a member's enquiry, AD/H(HA&P) advised that work of the Pharmaceutical Service to be reprovisioned to the Centre would involve, inter alia, inspection of retailers and wholesalers of drugs and laboratory testing of Chinese medicine. The Pharmaceutical Manufactory recently set up for preparation of drug items before distribution to clinic dispensaries would not be housed in the Centre.
17. The item was voted on and endorsed.
HEAD 704 - DRAINAGE
Chuen Lung sewerage
18. In reply to a member's query about the volume of daily sewage discharge from households in Chuen Lung, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) said that on the basis of the standard sewage discharge of 273 litres per person per day and four persons per household, each household would discharge about one cubic metre of sewage daily. A trunk sewer with a diameter ranging from 225 to 300 millimetres was therefore proposed as any trunk sewer with a diameter less than 225 millimetres would easily cause blockage. The proposed sewerage system would be sufficient to meet the need of the population in Chuen Lung which was expected to increase to 1 000 upon the completion of the village expansion programme in mid 2001.
19. A member expressed concern about the connection of individual drains, in particular those of village restaurants, to the proposed sewerage system. DDS advised that village households were subject to a licence system stipulated in the Water Pollution Control Ordinance under which household sewers were required to be connected to the sewerage system if such existed. He further clarified that the proposed works had been planned for a long time to improve the hygienic standard in the villages. The Administration had been in liaison with the village householders and there should not be any problem regarding connection. In response to a further question, DDS confirmed that the proposal was not part of the Government strategies to create employment opportunities.
20. The item was voted on and endorsed.
HEAD 705 - CIVIL ENGINEERING
Pak Shek Kok reclamation for dumping, stage 3
21. Miss Margaret NG declared her interest as the legal consultant of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on the project.
22. In reply to a member on the planning of the road network on the proposed reclamation area, the Director of Civil Engineering (DCE) advised that a comprehensive road system had been planned on the reclaimed land, including the provision of transport linkages with the Tolo Highway under the Tolo Highway Widening project. During the construction period, there would only be access roads to the site. In response to the same member, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) confirmed that the Town Planning Board had approved the project which had also been gazetted.
23. Responding to a member's queries, DCE confirmed that only inert construction waste would be disposed in the public filling area for reclamation purposes. The purpose of the proposal to set up a barging point at Shatin Area 47B was to reduce the impact of transporting public fill materials on the Tolo Highway. Because of the reduced construction traffic on Tolo Highway, a joint construction access with the Tolo Highway Widening project will be sufficient. He affirmed that the Shatin District Board and the Tai Po District Board had been consulted on 4th and 25th February 1997 respectively and had agreed to these proposals.
24. Regarding members concerns about the environmental impacts of the project on the mariculture zones in the Tolo Harbour, the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) advised that the mariculture zones were located at some distance from the reclamation site. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study on the Pak Shek Kok reclamation project, the environmental effects of the reclamation works could be effectively controlled with the implementation of the recommended mitigation measures. A member disagreed and pointed out that the water quality of the Tolo Harbour had been deteriorating at an alarming rate since the commencement of the first phase of the reclamation project in April 1996. This was evidenced by the increasing amount of dead clams and shell fish found in Tolo Harbour. The extent of the adverse impact did not show up in the results of the EPD studies as these did not take into account the marine environment less than one metre above the seabed.
25. DEP clarified that the deterioration of water quality in the Tolo Harbour since the beginning of the 1980s was due to the growth of population and development of industries in Shatin and Tai Po. However, this trend had been reversed over the past few years for various reasons, notably because of the building of extensive sewerage treatment facilities and the enforcement of the Water Pollution Control Ordinance to control discharges into Tolo Harbour. The Secretary for Works remarked that the overall water quality of the Tolo Harbour was a separate issue, beyond the scope of the direct environmental implications of the project.
26. In response to the Chairman's requests, SPEL undertook to provide research data collected by EPD on the water quality and the marine environment of Tolo Harbour in recent years, and the noise and dust impacts of the proposed reclamation works.
27. Some members considered it necessary to make reference to the environmental implications of the project before taking a decision on the paper. As a number of members had indicated their intention to ask further questions, the Chairman remarked that more time would be required to complete the discussion of this item. In view of the time constraints, he therefore suggested, and members agreed, that further discussion of the paper should be deferred to a later meeting.
HEAD 706 - HIGHWAYS
Interchange at junction of Pok Fu Lam Road and Sassoon Road
28. Some members were concerned about possible shift of traffic bottlenecks from one section of Pok Fu Lam Road to another upon the completion of the improvement works to the junction of Pok Fu Lam Road and Sassoon Road. To cope with the anticipated traffic demand generated by residential developments in the Aberdeen area, members enquired whether Pok Fu Lam Road, Sassoon Road and Bisney Road should also be widened in addition to the proposed improvement works. The Director of Highways (DHy) advised in response that different roadworks projects had already been completed to improve the traffic flow along Pok Fu Lam Road. There had been a significant improvement in the traffic flow with the completion of the Smithfield Road Extension early this year. Further along the route, the Wong Chuk Hang Road Flyover and widening project would further improve the situation. At present there were no traffic bottlenecks along Pok Fu Lam Road. DHy advised that instead of widening the proposed roads as suggested by members, the long term solution was to divert traffic from the area to the proposed Route 7.
29. Following up on the Administration's explanations, some members questioned whether it was justified to embark on the proposed project at a cost of around $500 million if the ultimate solution to relieve traffic rested with the construction of Route 7. Others members, however, considered the proposed project beneficial if this could achieve the intended purpose of facilitating traffic flow in the area. In response, the Administration advised that Route 7 was a large-scale project which was expected to take seven to ten years from planning to completion. The project was currently only at the study and design stage and its implementation would necessitate the reclamation of a part of Green Island. This reclamation had yet to be gazetted and authorized. It was thus necessary to proceed with interim and long term measures in the absence of which the traffic demand would exceed the junction capacity of Pok Fu Lam Road and Sassoon Road by 45% in 2006. The proposed improvement scheme would separate local and through vehicular traffic at the junction. It would also allow uninterrupted north-south through traffic along the new section of Pok Fu Lam Road without the impact of traffic lights. Moreover, the existing footbridge would be widened and reprovisioned with lifts for disabled pedestrians wishing to cross Pok Fu Lam Road. On a member's concern about possible adverse effect on traffic flow when the proposed works were in progress, DHy confirmed that the current dual-way two-lane arrangement in Pok Fu Lam Road would remain unchanged throughout the construction period by suitable traffic diversions.
30. Addressing a member's concern about the estimated cost of slope works and retaining structures totalling $46.9 million and whether such works could be reduced, DHy replied that the design of the project had already reduced the scale of slope works and retaining structures to the minimum. The slope stabilisation costs reflected the fact that a large section of the proposed flyover would be on deck and built over slopes.
31. Noting that 455 dwelling units of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) student residence halls would be affected by the project and that only indirect noise mitigation measures in the form of window insulation and air-conditioning would be provided, members questioned the reasons for not installing noise barriers or using noise reducing surfacing materials.
32. DHy explained that the installation of noise barriers was only effective in abating noise affecting low rise buildings and was therefore not applicable in the case of the high-rise HKU student residence halls facing Pok Fu Lam Road. The laying of noise reducing surfacing materials was not suitable in view of the stop-and-go nature of the traffic at the junction in question. Since 30 units had been identified as being subject to unacceptable construction noise due to their close proximity to the construction site, the Administration would advance the installation of window insulation to these units prior to commencement of the junction improvement works. He assured members that all 455 affected units would be installed with insulated windows and air-conditioners upon completion of the project. As regards the criteria for providing indirect mitigation measures, DHy further explained that if the noise levels at a residential unit in this area affected by the new road project exceeded 70 decibels, air conditioning would be provided. This criterion applied across the board to all residential buildings and was not limited to the residential units of universities. The noise levels at the affected units were assessed by calculations and agreed with by EPD. DHy confirmed that HKU had been kept fully informed on this matter.
33. The item was voted on and endorsed.
34. Due to time constraints, the Chairman announced that the meeting should be adjourned and consideration of the proposals under items PWSC(98-99)3, 1, 8, 4, 6 and 9 should be deferred to a meeting to be called for this purpose as soon as possible.
(Post meeting note: The meeting has been arranged for 4 September 1998)
35. The meeting ended at 12:55 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
30 July 1998