LC Paper No. PWSC61/98-99
(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 eighth meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 25 November 1998, at 10:45 am

Members present :

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Margaret NG
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Members absent :

Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :

Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Mr Patrick LAU, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

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/3, Housing Department

Mr Bernard M T LAM, JP
Director of Civil Engineering

Director of Highways

Ms Shirley LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Mrs Joanna KWOK
Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon, Transport Department

Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories East, Transport Department

Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West, Transport Department

Clerk in attendance:

Miss Polly YEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3

Staff in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

The Chairman informed members that Professor Hon NG Ching-fai had resigned from the Subcommittee with effect from 23 November 1998.

2. On the issuance of papers for meetings, the Chairman requested the Administration to provide discussion papers and supplementary information notes to members well in advance of the relevant Subcommittee and Finance Committee meetings to facilitate members' perusal. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury(3) (DS/Tsy3) took note of the Chairman's advice and assured members of the Administration's best endeavours to provide papers and information notes in a timely manner.


Upgrading of projects to Category A


PWSC(98-99)41257EP Primary school in Po Lam Road Housing Development, phase 1, Po Lam Road, Kowloon

3. In reply to a member about the shortfall of classrooms in Kwun Tong, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower(2) (PAS/EM2) advised that 152 new classrooms would be required in the district to meet the increase in demand up to year 2002/03, and a further 86 classrooms would be needed to enable bi-sessional schools to convert to whole-day operation, so as to achieve the policy target of enabling 60% of primary pupils in public sector schools to study on a whole-day basis by the same year. Three new primary schools in Kwun Tong had been upgraded to Category A for completion in year 2000/01. Together with the new school under the present proposal, the shortfall would be reduced by 114 classrooms to 124 classrooms. She confirmed that more new schools for the district were under planning and the relevant funding proposals would be submitted to this Subcommittee in due course. Addressing the member's concern about possible slippage in school building projects, PAS/EM2 advised that based on the progress of school projects under construction and those under planning, the Administration was confident that the whole-day schooling target could be achieved on schedule. She also confirmed that the majority of the new school projects required for the next three school years had been upgraded to Category A.

4. Noting from the paper that furniture and equipment (F & E) costs to be borne by the sponsoring body of a new aided school had gone up quite substantially, a member asked whether the increase was due to the need to provide computers for learning purposes and if so, whether it would be unfair for the sponsoring body of a new aided school to bear the cost of computers while existing aided primary schools would be provided with computers at no charge to these schools. In reply, PAS/EM2 clarified that the increase in the F & E costs was indeed primarily caused by the need to provide some 40 computers. In line with established practice, the sponsoring body of a new aided school would bear the cost of the initial purchase of F & E items including computers while the Government would be responsible for the maintenance and subsequent replacement of F & E items.

5. In reply to a member's enquiry about the basis of deriving the inflation allowance in the project estimates and how this was related to the general "inflation" rate, i.e. the Consumer Price Index (A) (CPI(A)), DS/Tsy3 advised that in determining the allowance for price fluctuations, a set of price adjustment factors (PAFs) were used to convert constant price estimates (at December 1997 prices for current public works proposals) into money-of-the-day (MOD) prices. These price adjustment factors were derived from statistics on trend labour and construction prices supplied by the Government Economist. The PAFs were usually adjusted at the beginning of each year. However, in view of the relatively sharp fluctuation in construction costs recently, the PAFs had been reviewed and adjusted in September/October 1998. As to why the PAFs remained relatively high when the CPI(A) had fallen quite significantly, DS/Tsy explained that the PAFs reflected trend movements in the costs of construction materials and staffing costs in the construction sector, whereas the CPI(A) reflected changes in the cost of living for - households in general.

6. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)44441CL Construction of box culvert along Shung Shun Street, Lei Yue Mun

7. The Director of Civil Engineering (DCE) pointed out the importance of this project in relation to the housing development at the Lei Yue Mun site. He drew Members' attention to the map enclosed with the paper and advised that stormwater from the housing site might become polluted following the intake of population at the housing development in 2001. Presently, stormwater from the unoccupied housing site was discharged into the Sam Ka Chuen (SKC) typhoon shelter. In order to prevent further deterioration in the water quality in the typhoon shelter, the intention was to start construction of a new box culvert in April 1999 for completion by December 2000 to divert stormwater collected from the housing development and nearby area into the open sea.

8. Mr LEE Wing-tat cast doubt on whether the proposed works could serve the intended purpose given his understanding that stormwater, as distinct from sewage, could help to dilute polluted water in typhoon shelters. In response, the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) pointed out that in the situation of Hong Kong, when stormwater passed through developed areas, it would carry with it pollutants from various sources such as hawker stalls, restaurants and vehicles. Besides, in some parts of Hong Kong, some factories and restaurants made illegal connections to stormwater drains, making the pollution problem even worse. The proposed project was a precautionary measure to prevent polluted stormwater from aggravating the water pollution in the SKC typhoon shelter. He added that the environmental impact of the discharge into the open sea would be much lower than that on typhoon shelters because tides and currents could carry away any pollutants contained in stormwater while this would not be the case for typhoon shelters where the water was relatively stagnant.

9. As regards the pollution problem of the SKC typhoon shelter, DEP advised that there was an on-going programme to deal with pollutants flowing into typhoon shelters. He undertook to confirm whether any particular measures were being proposed to deal with the pollutants in the SKC typhoon shelter. Admin.

10. In reply to a member's query, DCE advised that temporary pedestrian and vehicular access would be provided at Lei Yue Mun Path during the construction period. Some 50 carparking spaces at the adjacent carpark would be converted into a temporary pedestrian access. Notwithstanding this arrangement, there would still be sufficient carparking spaces to meet the demand in the area. As for vehicular access, he confirmed that traffic flows in Shung Shun Street would be maintained. As the area close to the project site was a tourist spot, the member requested and the Administration agreed to carefully plan the project works and to implement proper traffic diversion measures to minimize disruptions during the works period.

11. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)43125TB Pedestrian subway at the junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Peking Road

12. In reply to a member, DHy advised that the developer of Lippo Sun Plaza had agreed to keep the extension connecting the proposed pedestrian subway with the Lippo Sun Plaza open 24 hours and the elevators within the extended section leading to the at-grade pedestrian way would operate daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.

13. Some members commented that the proposed landscape area in the middle of Kowloon Park Drive would have minimal impact in terms of environmental improvement. Referring to the map attached to the paper, they pointed out that the proposed landscape area would result in a narrowing of the end section of one part of the road. This might adversely affect traffic flow and could compromise vehicle and pedestrian safety. In view of members' concern, the Chairman requested and the Administration agreed to review the need for the landscaped area, and indicate the cost implications for the project if it was to be removed. Admin.

14. Mr Edward HO referred to the estimation of consultant's fees in Enclosure 1 to the paper. He commented that the estimated cost of $6.5 million represented 16% of the project construction cost and, in his view, was disproportionately high. He queried the need for 69 man-months of resident site staff (RSS) input, i.e. an establishment of 2.3 RSS during the 30-month works period. He also enquired about the feasibility of deploying in-house staff instead of engaging a consultant for contract management.

15. In response, DHy advised that the same consultant together with a team of site supervisory staff would be engaged to oversee the three pedestrian subway projects in Tsim Sha Tsui, namely projects 126TB - pedestrian subway at junction of Austin Road and Canton Road, 124TB - pedestrian subway at the junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Salisbury Road and the project under discussion. The latter two projects would be carried out under one construction contract. The estimated consultant's fees under the present proposal was a pro-rata apportionment of the estimated total consultant's fees for all three projects. He confirmed that the Highways Department (HyD) could not undertake the contract management duties for these projects given the department's other project commitments. As regards the RSS establishment, DHy advised that four professional staff (comprising one engineer and three assistant engineers) and seven technical staff (comprising three foreman, one inspector of works, one assistant inspector of works, one survey officer (quantity) and one survey officer (engineering)) would be engaged to oversee the works on site for the three projects. He acknowledged that consultant's fees may constitute a higher percentage of project costs in the case of small scale projects since even for the smaller scale involved, a basic minimum site staff establishment would be required. The staff in question would also be required to perform a similar range of site supervision duties as in the case of a large scale project. For example, the three projects in question involved roads with busy traffic flows at different locations. Completion of the project would involve utilities diversion and phased temporary traffic arrangements in addition to the physical works. Because of this, considerable liaison with Government departments, the public and utility operators would be required during the course of construction. Notwithstanding DHy's explanation, Mr HO maintained his reservation concerning the high proportion of project costs attributable to consultant's fees. He pointed out that the latter did not include the design part of the project, and were therefore way above market rate. Taking into account the project management input of HyD's in-house staff, he considered the $6.5 million estimate for management and supervision costs was unacceptable. Mr HO's view was echoed by Mr Kenneth TING.

16. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)45720TH Widening of Tolo Highway / Fanling Highway between Island House Interchange and Fanling

17. In reply to a member, DHy advised that implementation of large scale highway projects usually comprised four stages, i.e. preliminary project feasibility study, preliminary design and impact assessment studies, detailed design and lastly, tenders and construction. The present proposal was concerned with the second stage, i.e. the preliminary design and impact assessment studies.

18. Members noted that the entire project was scheduled for completion in 2005 and the forecast traffic demand provided in the paper was up to 2011 only. They expressed concern that the traffic volume might exceed the capacity of the widened highways shortly after completion of project. In response, the Chief Traffic Engineer/ New Territories East (CTE/NTE) advised that the projected volume to capacity (V/C) ratio of 0.96 in year 2011 at the highway sections in question indicated that the latter along with the proposed widening would still have spare capacity to cater for a certain level of traffic growth beyond 2011. As regards the planning horizon for transport infrastructure projects, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5) (PAS/T5) advised that while the Administration would try to plan ahead as far as possible, many variables which might affect traffic demand had to be taken into consideration. In general, present transport infrastructure projects were planned to meet forecast traffic demand for about 15 years in the future. The traffic demand projections in the present proposal were derived from Update of the Second Comprehensive Transport Study completed in 1993 and up-to-date demographic information provided by the Planning Department. She added that further transport plans to meet the traffic demand up to 2016 would be drawn up in the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3) expected to be completed in March/April 1999. Among the issues being examined under CTS-3 were the mechanism for initiating timely transport infrastructure planning and the provision of road reserve capacity to allow for future widening when such a need arose. Addressing members' concern about co-ordination within the Administration in land use and transport planning, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands assured members that input of the Transport Bureau and relevant departments in transport planning would be enlisted in the process of drawing up major land-use and development plans.

19. In response to the Administration's explanation, Miss Emily LAU pointed out that as major road projects took a long time from planning to delivery, the planning horizon should be sufficiently long so that the completed roads would have a reasonable life span before operating beyond capacity. Miss LAU urged the Administration to ensure better co-ordination among concerned bureaux and departments in the supply of demographic and other relevant information for transport infrastructure planning.

20. Mr CHAN Kam-lam commented that in view of the complexity and the huge financial commitment of this project, it might be prudent to re-assess the need for the proposed road widening in the light of the findings of the CTS-3 currently under way. In response, PAS/T5 re-affirmed that the proposed road widening was necessary to cater for the substantial forecast increase in traffic flow of about 40% at the concerned highway sections by year 2006. On the other hand, the CTS-3 would formulate strategies to meet the longer term traffic demand up to 2016. She also informed members that the study would examine, inter alia, the need for a new trunk road linking North-east New Territories and Kowloon, on the assumption that the road widening project under discussion would be implemented as scheduled.

21. A member enquired about the viability of constructing a tunnel linking the Lam Kam Road Interchange and the Wo Hop Shek Interchange. DHy advised that constructing a tunnel was usually more expensive than constructing an at-grade or elevated road structure in terms of the total cost over the life of the project. Apart from the construction cost of the tunnel itself, there was a need to provide recurrent funding for maintenance, ventilation and lighting. Besides, if the tunnel option was pursued at this stage, the planning process would need to start afresh and the entire project would take a much longer time to complete.

22. Noting that the interchanges along the concerned sections of the Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway were only of dual 2-lane configuration, a member expressed concern about possible bottlenecks at these interchanges during and after the proposed road widening. In response, DHy assured members that this concern would be addressed at the traffic impact assessment included in the proposed consultancy.

23. Mr Andrew CHENG related the concern of the residents of Wan Tau Tong Estate in Tai Po about the noise impact during and after the proposed widening works. He urged the Administration to start public consultation early so that any concerns of the affected residents could be taken account of in the investigation and design process. In response, DHy advised that sufficient information for meaningful consultation with relevant Provisional District Boards and the Tai Po Rural Committee would only be available after completion of the proposed preliminary design and studies. He further responded that the provision of noise barriers and any other noise mitigation measures would be examined in the proposed environmental impact assessment study. Details of any noise mitigation measures required would be set out in the future proposal on the detailed design of the project.

24. Some members asked whether conservation and landscaping studies would be included in the proposed consultancy. DHy confirmed that these aspects had been included in the scope of the project works, and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study would be conducted as part of the consultancy assignment. He added that the relevant details were set out in paragraph 3(e), paragraph 15 and the enclosure to the paper, Specifications on the EIA and landscaping works had been included in the brief for consultants. In reply to a member's query about the absence of planting strips on the sectional drawings on the map attached to the discussion paper, DHy advised that the sketch was purely diagrammatic to show dual-3 and dual-4 carriageway widths. The need for planting strips would be considered in the proposed consultancy. If planting strips were considered to be necessary, they would be included in the drawings of the preliminary design. He added that planting strips were provided in most new road and road improvement projects, but a balance had to be struck between the provision of landscaping and the need for land resumption. Taking note of DHy's advice, some members urged the Administration to give more regard to environmental conservation and landscaping aspects in transport infrastructure planning, and even when land resumption was required, the provision of planting strips should still be considered. In view of members' concerns, the Chairman requested and DHy agreed to provide information on the environmental conservation and landscaping aspects covered in the proposed consultancy. Admin.

25. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)46 560TH Improvement to Kam Tin Road, Stage 1

26. Noting that the present V/C ratio of the Kam Tin Road section between Au Tau Roundabout and Kam Tin had already reached 1.28 during morning peak hours, Miss Emily LAU expressed grave concern about the traffic congestion problem on the road section pending the completion of the proposed improvements in October 2001. In response, the Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West (CTE/NTW) pointed out that the proposed road widening was the fundamental solution to the traffic congestion problem. To alleviate traffic congestion in the interim, the timing of the traffic signals at this road section would be modified to provide for greater traffic flow. DHy added that the existing traffic arrangements, i.e. one traffic lane in each direction, would be maintained at all times during the construction period. In reply to Miss LAU's further enquiry, CTE/NTW advised that the projected V/C ratio based on the existing traffic signal pattern was 1.5 in year 2001. Miss LAU expressed dissatisfaction with the planning for the required road improvements as the late delivery of the project would make road users suffer traffic congestion for an unreasonably long period.

27. In response to a member's enquiry about the objections to the gazetted road works, PAS/T5 confirmed that a total of 12 objections had been received and all of them were lodged by individuals. Seven of the objectors had withdrawn their objections. Of the remaining five, two had agreed to withdraw their objections subject to the proposed modifications set out in the paper. The third objector was concerned that resumption of part of his land would block the entrance to the remainder of his lot. PAS/T5 added that the Administration had offered to provide an access to the unresumed area but the objector was concerned about the amount of compensation. The fourth objector asked the Government to resume the whole instead of a part of his lots. The request could not be acceded to as the remaining portion was not required for the proposed road works. The fifth objector had requested permission for vehicles to make direct right turns into and out from the run-in and this request could not be acceded to because of traffic flow and safety considerations. Besides, a central divider would be constructed on the concerned road sections and therefore it would be impracticable to accede to the request. The three objectors mentioned above refused to withdraw their objections.

28. The item was voted on and endorsed.

29. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:40 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
17 December 1998