LC Paper No. PWSC145/98-99
(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 seventeenth meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 26 May 1999, at 8:30 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 James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Christine LOH
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
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 Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Margaret NG
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :

Mr James HERD
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3) Atg.

Mr Gordon SIU, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Deputy Secretary (Works Policy), Works Bureau

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

Deputy Secretary (Environment), Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau

Director of Drainage Services

Mr Raymond T K CHEUNG
Assistant Director of Drainage Services (Sewage Services)

Chief Engineer (Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme), Drainage Services Department

Ms Shirley LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Deputy Director of Highways

Government Engineer, Highways Department

Mr Francis K C LEE
Regional Highway Engineer (New Territories), Highways Department

Chief Traffic Engineer (New Territories West), Transport Department

Deputy Director of Territory Development

Deputy Director of Civil Engineering (Civil)

Chief Engineer (Tseung Kwan O), New Territories East Development Office, Territory Development Department

Mr Parrish NG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (4)

Assistant Director of Home Affairs (2)

Deputy Project Manager, New Territories North Development Office, Territory Development Department

Deputy Director of Water Supplies

Mr LEUNG Mang-chiu
Assistant Director of Water Supplies (New Works)

Mr TIN Hon-wai
Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Project Management)

Mr Francis LO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (5)

Deputy Director of Architectural Services

Mr Patrick LI
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)

Assistant Director of Education (Planning and Research)

Mrs Margaret CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (9)
Clerk in attendance:
Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2
Staff in attendance:
Miss Polly YEUNG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

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

Head 704 - Drainage

PWSC(1999-2000)15312DS Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme stage I - construction supervision of the main works

In reply to Dr Raymond HO's enquiry about the reasons for the extension of the construction supervision period of the works under the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS) Stage 1 programme, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) explained that the extension was due to the delays in the completion of projects commissioned under the programme, particularly the delays resulting from the unilateral suspension of works for the six sewage connection tunnels by the original contractor. After negotiations, the Government had no option but had to re-enter and re-let the contracts in order to complete the works. The liability of the original contractor for the delays and consequential losses incurred by the Government was now pending arbitration, the main hearings for which were scheduled for early 2000. The Government's claims against the contractor were filed on grounds of the latter's failure to complete the contracts with due diligence.

2. Responding to Dr HO's query about the delay in the works related to SSDS Stage 1 chemical dosing facilities, the Chief Engineer (Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme) referred to the explanation for the delay in enclosure 2 to the paper and advised that the works for the facilities had been completed early this year. DDS confirmed that the delay in these works was unrelated to the delay caused by the re-entering of the tunnel contracts.

3. As to whether poor ground conditions were anticipated for the works on the four eastern connection tunnels, DDS advised that the progress of the works for the eastern tunnels was reasonable, and so far the drilling works along the routes of the eastern tunnels had not encountered similar ground conditions as those encountered along the Tsing Yi to Stonecutters Island tunnel route. He added that if such conditions were encountered at a later stage, the experience gained in the works for the western tunnels would enable more effective handling of the problem.

4. In response to Miss Emily LAU's enquiry about the environmental impacts as a result of the delays in the works for the connection tunnels, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) confirmed that the delays would definitely affect the quality of treated sewage entering the harbour. As regards quantitative information on the adverse impacts, the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) advised that it would not be possible to quantify the environmental impacts in monetary terms and to assess the impacts in terms of water quality parameters, because other factors were at play at the same time. He however said that it was possible to quantify the amount of additional sewage loading disposed into the sea water over the delay period. At the request of Miss LAU, SPEL agreed to provide, as far as possible, quantified information on the adverse environmental impacts as a result of the delays in the works for the sewage connection tunnels.Admin.

5. Miss Emily LAU further enquired whether the adverse environmental impacts arising from the delays in the tunnel works would be taken into account in the Government's claims against the original contractor in the arbitration. DDS advised that under the contract, the damages would be assessed by the Engineer of the contracts, i.e. the project consultants. He anticipated that it would be difficult to assess environmental damages in monetary terms but he undertook to examine this further together with the consultants. Miss Emily LAU said that in view of the significant adverse environmental impacts, the Administration should consider including appropriate provisions in future public works contracts regarding the liability of the contractor concerned for adverse environmental impacts attributable to the contractor's non-compliance with contract requirements. The Administration took note of Miss LAU's suggestion.Admin.

6. Miss Emily LAU sought clarification on the reductions in the final costs of some other related projects under the SSDS Stage I programme as mentioned in the discussion paper. DDS and the Assistant Director of Sewage Services advised that the original overall estimate for the SSDS Stage 1 programme was $8.2 billion. The anticipated savings mainly arose from the provision for contingencies set aside in the original estimates which had not been fully disbursed upon the completion of the projects. They also confirmed that these savings had not been derived from any cancellation of works in the original project plans. At Miss LAU's request, the Administration agreed to provide further information on the anticipated savings arising from the projects under the SSDS Stage 1 programme.Admin.

7. Mr CHEUNG Man-Kwong queried why the problems with the mucking system left by the original contractor was not known when the Administration re-entered the contract sites. Likewise, he queried why the extent of the poor ground conditions in the Tsing Yi to Stonecutters tunnel route had not been known at the site investigation stage. He asked whether these problems were due to dereliction of duty of government officials or of the project consultants.

8. Regarding the poor ground conditions at the tunnels between Tsing Yi and Stonecutters Island, DDS explained that considerable ground investigation works at a cost of about $200 million had been carried out for the whole deep tunnel sewage transfer system and for some other works under the subsequent stages of SSDS. The exceptionally difficult rock conditions could not have been envisaged until construction works commenced, as these conditions could only be identified upon boring to great depths. The poor ground conditions encountered at the construction stage therefore could not be attributed to any dereliction of duty by the consultants.

9. As for the mucking system, DDS explained that the system was used to remove the excavation rocks from the deep tunnels which were 150 metres deep. The system had never been operated at full capacity by the original contractor, and it functioned well when being inspected by the consultants on re-entering the contracts subsequent to the suspension of works by the original contractor. Unfortunately, the system failed when it was fully loaded during the completion works.

10. Mr SIN Chung-kai queried whether any government official should be held responsible for the delays in the projects under the SSDS Stage 1 programme. In response, the Deputy Secretary for Works (Works Policy) (DS/W(WP)) reiterated that the main reason for the delays in the projects was the unilateral suspension of the works for the six sewage connection tunnels by the original contractor. He informed members that all along, government officials responsible for the projects had been performing their monitoring and supervision duties with due diligence and in accordance with established procedures.

11. As the proposed revised estimate represented a 90% increase over the approved estimate, Mr SIN commented that given the substantial increase, the Administration should initiate an internal inquiry. DS/W(WP) clarified that the proposed increase of $98.8 million represented an increase of only 16 % over the original estimate of $610 million for construction supervision of the main works of the SSDS Stage I programme. The previous approved project estimate of $118.2 million only covered the construction supervision of the outstanding main works of SSDS Stage I upon the closure of the Sewage Services Trading Fund on 31 March 1998. He further remarked that throughout the execution of the projects, the Administration had closely monitored the situation in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures and as such, the Administration did not consider it necessary at this stage to initiate an inquiry into the problems encountered in the SSDS Stage 1 projects.

12. Mr CHAN Kam-lam enquired about the criteria for awarding the contracts for the construction of the six connection tunnels to the original contractor. DDS advised that the relevant tendering exercise was conducted in 1993/94 according to the prevailing tender assessment procedures, and had resulted in the two contracts for the six connection tunnels being awarded to the same contractor, which was a joint venture of two international construction companies. DDS confirmed that the original contractor's tenders for the two tunnel contracts were the lowest bids in the respective tendering exercises and were in compliance with the project requirements set out in the relevant tender documents. There were no indications at that time that the contractor would not be able to complete the projects.

13. Members were concerned about whether the construction companies in question had been removed from the Approved Lists of contractors for public works contracts. DS/W(WP) said that as far as he could recall, they had been removed from the Approved Lists. DDS subsequently confirmed in clarification that the two companies concerned had been suspended from tendering for public works for a six-month period but the suspension had been lifted in accordance with the relevant rules of the Works Bureau for the administration of contractors. Dr Raymond HO said that the Administration had advised at a recent joint meeting of the Panels on Planning, Lands and Works and Environmental Affairs that upon expiry of the six-month suspension, the two companies would still be eligible for tendering public works projects. He considered that the poor performance of the joint venture companies should deserve more severe sanctions on their eligibility for tendering public works.

14. Dr Raymond HO further said that he would support the present proposal on account of the need to complete the outstanding works of SSDS Stage 1. He however pointed out that awarding the works contracts for the six connection tunnels, which were of a large scale and technically complicated, should not have been awarded to the same contractor in the first place, particularly when one of the two joint venture companies had never been engaged in any public works in Hong Kong. He therefore urged the Administration to review the relevant tender assessment criteria and the appropriateness or otherwise of including more than one large scale projects under one single construction contract to be awarded.

15. In response to members' comments and concerns, DS/W(WP) said that the existing procedures and criteria for assessment of contractors for inclusion into the Approved Lists for government contracts were comprehensive and had worked well so far. For large scale and/or complicated projects, as in the case of the sewage tunnel projects, a pre-qualification tendering exercise would be conducted to ensure that interested contracting companies possessed the necessary expertise and experience. The requirements would be set out in the relevant tender documents for bidders. He further advised that an open and transparent system had been in place for monitoring the performance of contractors engaged for Government projects. The system was subject to on-going review in the light of changing circumstances. Taking note of DS/W(WP)’s response, Dr Raymond HO stated his view that the present incident concerning the six connection tunnels had revealed the inadequacies of the relevant procedures.

16. Mr CHEUNG Man-Kwong stated the view of Members of the Democratic Party that the Administration should initiate an internal inquiry into the delays and extensions of the SSDS Stage 1 projects. The inquiry should examine whether there was any dereliction of duty on the part of government officials and the project consultants and the lessons to be learned from the incident. The Administration should also clarify and explain the circumstances relating to the suspension of the original contractor. He expressed grave concern that the original contractor could still be allowed to tender for government projects after only a six-month suspension.

17. Mr James TIEN said that Members of the Liberal Party (LP), on the one hand, appreciated the need for additional funds to enable the completion of the outstanding works of SSDS Stage 1. On the other hand, they shared some members' concerns about the short suspension period imposed on the joint venture companies and the inadequacies of the existing tender assessment procedures and criteria, with particular regard to the assessment of tenders made by multinational or foreign companies which had no previous project experience in Hong Kong. He said that Members of LP would abstain from voting on the item until the above concerns had been fully addressed by the Administration.

18. Mr LAU Kong-wah also expressed grave concern about the joint venture companies being allowed to tender for public works projects after a six-month suspension. He said that if the Administration were not prepared to review the circumstances and provide a satisfactory response before the relevant Finance Committee (FC) scheduled to consider this proposal, Members of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong would unlikely support the present proposal.

19. In response, DS/W(WP) undertook to provide information before the relevant FC meeting to explain the circumstances relating to the suspension of the joint venture companies from tendering for public works projects. While he also agreed to follow up on members' concern about the rules and procedures governing the administration of contractors on the Approved Lists, he pointed out that as the contractors have been formally admitted to the Approved Lists , the suspension or removal of a company from the Lists must be in accordance with the prescribed procedures. He nevertheless assured members that although the two companies in question were eligible for tendering government projects, their past track records would be duly considered before any award of contract. He advised that the Administration would consider disallowing the joint venture companies from tendering government projects in future if the arbitration proceeding subsequently concluded that the original contractor had been involved in deliberate non-compliance with the contract requirements.Admin.

20. In view of members' concerns, the Chairman remarked that the existing policy on the assessment and award of public works tenders should be critically examined. He therefore advised that the subject should be further pursued at the relevant Panel(s) in due course. Members agreed.XX

21. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury requested members to give weight to the fact that the requested additional funds were urgently required to enable completion of the works to meet the ultimate environmental objectives. He shared the Chairman's view that while some concerns of members could be addressed by providing relevant information, other concerns relating to policy issues might require further discussion at the relevant Panel(s). Members demurred. He then said that the Administration would withdraw the proposal with a view to re-submitting it at the following meeting on 2 June 1999.

22. The item was withdrawn by the Administration.

Head 706 - Highways

PWSC(1999-2000)16 464TH Lung Cheung Road and Ching Cheung Road improvements

23. In response to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong's enquiry on whether the increase in the project estimate was due to the failure of the project consultant to conduct proper and adequate site investigation (SI) and construction supervision, the Deputy Director of Highways (DDHy) advised that the scale of SI works carried out by the project consultant was considered adequate and was in accordance with the original works plan. He explained that as the natural slopes along Lung Cheung Road and Ching Cheung Road on which new bridges were to be built had been densely covered with vegetation and the SI works had to be carried out a few years ahead of the actual construction works, extensive SI works at these slopes would have required extra costs for the removal and reinstatement of vegetation for temporary protection of the bare slope surface before the commencement of construction works. Adequate SI works in accordance with the conventional practice, amounting to about 1% of the total project estimate, had been carried out for this road project. Provisions had been included in the construction contract to require the contractor to conduct test boring at each pile location. DDHy further pointed out that the test boring results had revealed that the ground conditions were worse than expected and thus required more excavation works for removing unsuitable materials for the pile foundations.

24. As regards the extra cost incurred for the additional slope stabilization works, DDHy and the Government Engineer, Highways Department (GE/Hy) advised that in the light of the collapse of a nearby man-made slope at Ching Cheung Road on 3 August 1997, the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) recommended that additional stabilization works for the slopes within the site boundary of this project would be required to prevent similar recurrence of slope failure. DDHy further advised that remedial works on a Tai Po Road slope constructed under the project were also required subsequent to its failure on 9 June 1998. Based on the result of a detailed investigation, Highways Department concluded that the slope failure at Tai Po Road was caused by the exceptionally severe rainstorm rather than any design error or any faulty works of the contractor concerned. The rainfall on the day preceding the slope failure was 326 mm, which exceeded the intensity of a one-in-200-year rainfall. The tremendous surface run-off infiltrated into the cracks of the damaged pavement and caused high local pressure behind the slope resulting in the slope failure.

25. Mr TAM Yiu-chung enquired whether the other slopes completed under this project could withstand a similar rainstorm as that in June 1998. In reply, DDHy and GE/Hy advised that the slopes within the project site had been reinforced subsequent to the rainstorms in 1997 and 1998, and additional interceptor drains had been constructed to prevent excessive surface run-off during rainstorms from infiltrating into the slopes.

26. To conclude, DDHy and GE/Hy confirmed that the SI and design work undertaken by the consultant were considered adequate and proper at the time when the works were planned. However, the incidents of rainstorms in 1997 and 1998 had revealed the need for additional slope stabilization works.

27. On the difference between the original estimate of $11.5 million and the revised estimate of $41.8 million for noise barriers, GE/Hy referred to paragraph 2 of the enclosure to the paper and explained that the total difference of $30.3 million had resulted from a balance between additional costs of $27.2 million and $4.0 million due to a higher tender outturn price and price fluctuation from September 1993 to December 1998 respectively, as well as a saving of $0.9 million due to slight reduction in the actual quantity of works. Miss Emily LAU suggested that for easy reference in future proposals, the comparison between the original and revised estimates and the reasons for these differences should be presented together, rather than separately as in the present discussion paper. The Administration took note of the suggestion.Admin.

28. As to whether the assessment of tenders would take into account the tender price for individual works items, DDHy and GE/Hy confirmed that the price assessment of tenders was based on the overall tender price for the project. However, in the cause of examining the submitted tenders, the project consultant would seek explanation or clarification from the bidders on their tendered price for individual items which deviated substantially from the Government's initial estimates. If the explanation was considered reasonable, the tenders would not be rejected on grounds of such deviations in individual items. All the tenders and the subsequent clarification/explanation provided by the bidders would be presented to the Central Tender Board for consideration.

29. Noting from footnote 3 of the discussion paper on the substantial difference in prices between the accepted tender and the average of all other tenders, which were 11% less and 6% higher than the original project estimate respectively, Miss Cyd HO asked whether the Administration had sought explanation/clarification from the successful bidder on the low tender price. She was concerned that the contractor might have under-estimated the project costs and the project would be subsequently defaulted for financial reasons. DDHy and GE/Hy confirmed that the Government would not seek explanation/clarification from bidders on the overall project tender prices. In the case of the present project, a pre-qualification tendering exercise had been conducted to ensure that all the prospective tenderers invited for the final tendering exercise were technically and financially qualified for the project. The contractor concerned had in fact proved to be capable of completing the works according to the contract requirements.

30. In response to Mr Kenneth TING's enquiries, DDHy advised that although the project was substantially completed in August 1998, a provision of $32.1 million for contingencies was still required in the revised estimate to allow for resolution of possible claims from the contractor. As regards the provision of $32.3 million in the revised estimate for "prolongation cost and increase in preliminaries", DDHy advised that this provision was to compensate the contractor for the extended contract period. The purpose of making provision for "contingencies" in the original estimate was to allow for, inter alia, this kind of additional expenses.

31. Miss Emily LAU said that she was not fully convinced that the consultant concerned should not bear any responsibility for the delay and extra works of this project. She therefore considered it not reasonable to compensate the consultant for the extended contract period. DDHy concurred that it would be unfair to the Government and the public if a consultant could obtain additional remuneration for the extended project period if such a delay was attributable to the consultant's faults. He however confirmed that, in the present case, the Administration had examined the circumstances thoroughly and concluded that the project delay and extra works did not arise from any fault of the consultant.

32. In reply to Mr Edward HO's queries about the revised estimate for the resident site staff cost, which was $18.4 million higher than the original estimate, and whether the consultant had benefited from the increase, DDHy and GE/Hy advised that the consultancy contract had been awarded under the previous tendering system, under which the consultant was remunerated on a standard fee of 10% of the resident site staff cost for providing management services. As for the cost increase, it was mainly related to salary revisions of resident site staff in line with the salary adjustments of the civil service during the project period.

33. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Upgrading of projects to Category A

Head 706 - Highways

PWSC(1999-2000)17706THHighway between Shap Pat Heung interchange and Pok Oi interchange - remaining works

34. Regarding the policy on the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems at highways, the Chief Traffic Engineer (New Territories West), Transport Department (CTE/NTW) advised that the Transport Department (TD) was examining the need, cost and timetable for installing CCTV systems at existing and future major trunk roads. At present, CCTV systems were installed at Tuen Mun Road and critical road junctions of districts covered by the Area Traffic Control System. Provision of a CCTV system had also been included in the Tolo Highway widening project, construction of which was underway. These CCTV systems were connected to the respective district police stations for 24-hour traffic surveillance. In reply to Mr James TIEN's enquiry on whether there was any plan to provide the public with convenient access to the traffic information collected through the CCTV systems, CTE/NTW advised that at present, the traffic conditions under the monitoring of the existing CCTV systems could be viewed on the internet web site of TD.

35. Noting from DDHy that under this project, noise barriers would be erected only at those sections of the proposed trunk road with existing residential developments nearby, Mr Edward HO enquired whether additional noise barriers would be installed at the other sections of the completed road when the need arose in future. In response, the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) advised that according to the existing policy, when a new road was built, the Government would tackle the traffic noise problem by implementing direct technical remedies, which included the erection of noise barriers, at the highway concerned as far as practicable to protect existing noise-sensitive receivers, such as residential developments. Under certain circumstances, direct technical remedies might not be practicable. For example, when the affected building was high-rise and very close to the road, noise barriers would not be effective in reducing the noise impact on the upper storeys of the building. A complete enclosure of the road might also not be feasible. The Government would then have to rely on the developer concerned to provide indirect technical remedies to the affected residential premises in the form of enhanced glazing and air-conditioning etc. He further advised that under the same policy, noise barriers would not be provided for possible future residential developments as it was technically not feasible to plan noise barriers of suitable design without any known information on the height of the future buildings and the distance of the buildings from the road. For these future residential developments, it would be more effective for the developer concerned to implement measures in due course to reduce the traffic noise impact. Mr Edward HO stated his objection to the existing policy of not providing noise barriers even though the site adjacent to a road had been designated for residential development but pending detailed information on its configuration. The Chairman suggested that the policy issues on the provision of noise mitigation measures when building new roads should be referred to the relevant Panel(s) for further discussion.Clerk

36. In response to Mr Edward HO's enquiry about the land uses designated for the sites adjacent to the proposed trunk road, the Regional Highway Engineer (New Territories), Highways Department (RHE/NT) agreed to provide the information after the meeting.Admin.

37. Miss Emily LAU enquired about the effectiveness of those noise barriers with a bend-in sloping top in abating traffic noise. In reply, DEP advised that the use of noise barriers was to break the sound path between the source and the receiver of traffic noise. The design of noise barriers would be contingent on the gradient of the sound path which in turn depended on the height of the building affected and the distance of the building from the road. When the sound path was very steep, probably in the situation where the building affected was high-rise and was relatively close to the road, straight-through barriers would need to be very high. When straight-through noise barriers of over five metres high were required to break the sound paths, it would be preferable from the engineering and aesthetic points of view to provide barriers with bend-in sloping top to increase the effective height of the barriers for breaking the sound path. The cost of these barriers were usually higher than that of straight-through barriers. He further confirmed that presently, there was no particular policy with regard to the material and design of noise barriers as long as they were effective in noise abatement and could satisfy the technical requirements of the project concerned.

38. With regard to the provision of landscape treatment at the proposed trunk road, RHE/NT confirmed that trees would be planted on both sides of the proposed trunk road as shown in the section plan in the discussion paper, but not on the road divider which was too narrow to allow the planting of trees without causing obstruction to the view of drivers.

39. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Head 702 - Port and Airport Development

PWSC(1999-2000)18359CLTseung Kwan O port development at area 137 (Fat Tong O) - remaining works

40. Addressing Mr WONG Yun-kan's concern about the impact of the proposed works on the marine environment, the Deputy Director of Territory Development (DDTD) advised that according to the results of the relevant Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the proposed engineering works would not have an adverse long-term impact on the marine ecology in the vicinity of the project site. As regards the environmental impacts during the construction period, the contractor concerned would be required to implement the measures recommended in the EIA to control the impacts within established standards and guidelines. He confirmed that dredging at the seabed would be required for the construction of the proposed vertical seawall but not for the reclamation works. DDTD informed members that the following measures would be implemented to control the impact of seabed dredging on the marine ecology -

  1. use of the closed grab dredging method to prevent dispersion of mud in the seawater;

  2. prohibition of leakage or overflowing of water and mud from the barge operating the dredging into the seawater; and

  3. erection of a temporary silt curtain around the work site to prevent infiltration of mud into the seawater outside the site boundary.
He assured members that comprehensive monitoring and surveillance procedures were in place to ensure proper implementation of the above measures. Besides, the monitoring and audit team would also be required to submit quarterly and monthly reports on the monitoring of environmental impacts.

41. Also addressing Mr WONG's concern about the possible impact of the project works on a mariculture zone in the vicinity, DEP advised that the mariculture zone was about two kilometers to the southeast of the project site. Environmental modelling under the aforesaid EIA had revealed that given the distance and the various mitigation measures put in place, the dredging activity under this project would not affect the mariculture zone. However, as a safeguard, water samples would be collected at the zone for water quality monitoring during the course of the project.

42. Notwithstanding the Administration's assurance, Mr WONG was still deeply concerned about the possible environmental impacts of the seabed dredging works, and thus urged the Administration to apply strict monitoring. Noting that the proposed reclamation would not involve seabed dredging, he enquired whether retaining mud at the seabed would result in substantial soil settlement at the reclamation area in future. In reply, DDTD advised that to accelerate the settlement process of the reclamation, vertical drains would be planted into the seabed and pre-loading mound would be constructed above the reclamation area. Besides, soil settlement monitoring devices would also be installed during reclamation to ensure that very limited residual settlement would occur at the reclamation area upon future development.

43. In reply to Mr SIN Chung-kai's enquiry about the Deep Water Industries (DWI) to be located in the proposed reclamation area, DDTD referred to the explanation of DWI given in footnote 1 of the discussion paper, and advised that prospective tenants engaging in DWI had not been identified at this stage.

44. Referring to the finding stated in the Audit Report No. 28 of 1997 that the cost of handling public fill at reclamation sites was about $27 per cubic metre as compared to $158 per cubic metre for handling construction waste at landfills, Miss Emily LAU enquired about the plans to minimize the handling of construction waste at landfills. The Deputy Secretary (Environment), Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau DS(E), PELB advised that about 32 000 tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) materials were produced in Hong Kong each day. Most of them were inert material which could be more economically disposed of as public fill or be re-used for other construction purposes, such as foundation and embankment works. The Administration was formulating measures to find more economical and environmental-friendly outlets for C&D material. Pending the implementation of these measures and changes to the relevant building regulations to encourage building methods that would produce less construction waste, a significant portion of C&D material would still be disposed of at landfills in the coming few years. Miss Emily LAU urged the Administration to implement suitable measures expeditiously to minimize the disposal of C&D material at landfills.

45. On the reasons for locating the proposed C&D material sorting plant at the stage 1 reclamation of Area 137, DDTD explained that as the bulk of the waste collected at C&D sites was mostly inert material, which could be used as filling material for reclamation purpose, it was more economical to locate the sorting plant near the reclamation sites rather than at landfills.

46. As regards the plan for setting up C&D material sorting plants in the territory, DS(E), PELB confirmed that the temporary sorting plant under this project was the first such facility, while two permanent sorting facilities were being planned concurrently. In addition, the Administration would consider setting up temporary sorting facilities at public filling areas which would operate for a reasonably long period, as in the case of this project. The Deputy Director of Civil Engineering (Civil) supplemented that presently, about 79% of C&D material collected in the territory were used in reclamations and the remainder disposed at landfills. With the provision of the proposed sorting facilities, C&D material delivered to public filling areas for reclamation would increase to about 84% within the next few years.

47. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Head 707 - New Towns and Urban Area Development

PWSC(1999-2000)20109DSProvision of sewers and sewage treatment plants in rural areas in the New Territories
18HHVillage improvements and development schemes in the New Territories

446THImprovement, reconstruction and extension of village access roads in the New Territories

48. Miss Emily LAU enquired about the reason for the relatively high provision of funds for the Yuen Long district under the programme 18HH "Village improvements and development schemes in the New Territories". In reply, the Assistant Director of Home Affairs (2) (AD/HA(2)) advised that the higher provision for Yuen Long was mainly attributed to the fact that the district was greatly affected by flooding. The provision also covered the proposed minor drainage improvement works for the district to tie in with the major drainage schemes being implemented in the area. He also confirmed that throughout the past 10 years of implementation of the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy, quite substantial funds had been allocated to projects aimed at alleviating the flooding problem in Yuen Long.

49. As to how priority was accorded among various improvement projects for rural areas, AD/HA(2) advised that most rural improvement projects were initiated by local residents. Priority for these projects were recommended by the respective district working groups and their recommendations were considered by a central steering committee. Both the district working groups and the central steering committee consisted of district board members, Heung Yee Kuk representatives and representatives from relevant Government departments.

50. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)1930CDVillage flood protection for Yuen Long, Kam Tin and Ngau Tam Mei, North West New Territories

51. In reply to Miss Emily LAU's question on when the flooding problem in Pok Wai could be solved, DDTD advised that with the completion of the proposed works under this project in August 2001 and the river training works at the existing drainage channel fronting Pok Wai (shown yellow on the map enclosed to the discussion paper) under a separate project 29CD, which was scheduled for completion in December 2002, Pok Wai would be substantially relieved of future flooding hazards.

52. As to how the conditions specified by the Advisory Council on the Environment upon its endorsement of the relevant EIA report would be implemented, DDTD advised that these conditions were only applicable to river training works which was beyond the scope of the present proposal. However, the conditions would be suitably implemented in the river training works to be carried out in Yuen Long and Kam Tin under projects 29CD and 81 CD, for which funding proposals would be put to this Subcommittee at a later date. With reference to the condition on the disposal of contaminated mud, DDTD advised that removal of contaminated mud would be avoided as far as possible when carrying out river training works. Where removal of contaminated mud was required, the removed mud would be disposed of at the dumping site at East of Sha Chau according to prescribed procedures of the Fill Management Committee.

53. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)23496CLAdvance engineering infrastructure works for Pak Shek Kok development

54. Regarding the proposed reprovisioning of the existing marine science laboratory of the Chinese University of Hong Kong from Shatin to Tai Po, DDTD referred to the map of the discussion paper and advised that the distance between the existing marine science laboratory and the proposed reprovisioned site was within walking distance. He took note of Mr LAU Kong-wah's comment on the arbitrary delineation of the district boundary between Shatin and Tai Po and undertook to consider providing covered resting facilities along the proposed re-alignment cycle track.Admin.

55. In reply to MR WONG Yun-kan's enquiry about the sewage treatment facilities for the Pak Shek Kok Development (PSKD), DDTD advised that the sewage generated by the future developments at PSKD would be directed to the Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works which had been designed to cope with this additional demand.

56. On the timetable for the subsequent phase of infrastructure works for PSKD, DDTD advised that the design and construction for these infrastructure works were scheduled to commence in late 1999 and 2002 respectively for completion in 2006. Funding proposals for these works would be submitted to this Subcommittee in due course.

57. In reply to Miss Emily LAU's enquiry about the job opportunities that would be created by the Science Park development, DDTD advised that Phase 1 of the Science Park would create some 5 500 jobs and upon full development in 2016, some 20 000 jobs would be created. As regards the job categories, DDTD undertook to refer the question to the Industry Department for a reply on the respective projected number of different job categories that would be available at PSKD upon full development in 2016.Admin.

58. Mr CHENG Kar-foo expressed concern on whether the PSKD would be serviced by a railway. The Deputy Project Manager, New Territories North Development Office, Territory Development Department advised that according to the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the forecast residential population of 12 000 and working population of 20 000 at PSKD would not justify an additional railway station at PSKD unless the existing University Station was deleted correspondingly. While indicating that he might pursue the matter at the relevant Panel, Mr CHENG requested the Administration to provide more information on the transport facilities for PSKD in future funding proposals relating to PSKD. The Administration took note of the request.Admin.

59. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Head 709 - Waterworks

PWSC(1999-2000)24 86WC Water supply to Pak Shek Kok, Tai Po - remaining works

60. Regarding the objection of the Village Representatives of Yuen Chau Tsai Village to the construction of the proposed pumping station, the Deputy Director of Water Supplies (DDWS) advised that the proposed works would not require resumption of the burial ground and the villagers were mainly concerned about possible adverse feng shui impact on the neighbouring burials during construction. To allay villagers' concern, the Tai Po District Office would continue to liaise with the Village Representatives and the Administration would require the future contractor to perform certain rituals before commencing the construction works. He undertook to confirm the number of villagers involved in the objection to the proposed works after the meeting.Admin.

61. In reply to Miss Cyd HO's question on whether the proposed waterworks facilities were designed to also service the Science Park and the entire PSKD, DDWS advised that the facilities would have adequate capacity to cope with the demand of PSKD during its initial phase, but the whole waterworks system would need to be upgraded and expanded to meet any further demand.

62. Noting that currently, there was no salt water supply in Pak Shek Kok and the adjoining areas, Miss Emily LAU enquired about the criteria for providing salt water supply facilities. In reply, DDWS advised that while the population size was a major consideration, the Administration would also conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of providing a new salt water system when planning for any such facilities.

63. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)25 91WC Water supply to new developments in Yau Tong area

64. Noting that an EIA was not required for the proposed waterworks covering Yau Tong, Lei Yue Mun and Cha Kwo Ling, Miss Emily LAU enquired about the circumstances under which an EIA would be required for a project. DEP said that the relevant definitions and criteria were prescribed in the EIA Ordinance. Generally speaking, the EIA procedures applied to large projects that would have significant and long-lasting environmental impacts. EIA procedures would not apply to projects which only had highly localized and short-term impacts which could be controlled by implementing appropriate mitigation measures during the project period. For the project under the present proposal, it was considered that the project works, though involving fairly extensive main laying works, would not have any significant long-term environmental impact. He then referred to the schedules attached to the EIA Ordinance and quoted some examples of projects that fell within the remit of the EIA Ordinance. At the Chairman's request, he agreed to provide further information on the criteria and principles for determining whether a project should be subject to the statutory EIA procedures.Admin.

65. Referring to the figures provided in the discussion paper, Miss Cyd HO enquired about the reasons for the projected fresh water demand for the period from 1999 to 2008 being disproportionate to the projected population growth for the same period. In response, DDWS explained that while population growth had a bearing on the water demand for domestic purposes, projection on the overall water demand for an area also had to take into account the demand of commercial and industrial operations. At the request of Miss HO, he agreed to provide further information to substantiate the projections on water demand for the areas in question.Admin.

66. Mr CHAN Kam-lam expressed concern on whether the proposed works could be completed and commissioned in time to meet the substantial increase in water demand in the areas from 2002 onwards. Acknowledging the tight timeframe of the project, DDWS advised that although the whole project would be completed in 2004, the mainlaying works and the first stage of the construction of the water service reservoir were scheduled for completion in April 2002, and the completed facilities could provide adequate capacity to meet the growth of demand in 2002. Completion of the final stage of the construction of the water service reservoir in March 2004 would provide additional capacity to meet the further growth of demand beyond 2004.

67. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)2634WFAdditional trunk transfer facilities between Tan Kwai Tsuen and Tuen Mun
68. In response to Miss Emily LAU's enquiry on how the projections of fresh water demand of the Tuen Mun area for the period up to 2008 were derived, DDWS undertook to provide relevant information after the meeting.Admin.

69. As to how the concern of Tuen Mun Provisional District Board about the traffic impact of the construction works would be addressed, DDWS advised that relevant clauses would be included in the works contract to require the contractor to implement proper traffic diversion measures during the construction period. The Administration would further assess the traffic impact and if undue traffic impact at certain road junctions/sections was anticipated, provisions would be made in the works contract for carrying out the mainlaying works by pipe jacking instead of trench dredging on the road surface. He also advised that the cost of pipe jacking was about two to three times that of trench dredging, but it was envisaged that the scale of road sections/junctions requiring pipe jacking would be limited and thus the additional cost required would not have a significant impact on the project estimates.

70. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Head 711 - Housing

PWSC(1999-2000)27212WFTransfer facilities from Butterfly Valley primary service reservoir to secondary service reservoirs in the metropolitan area - stage 1

71. In reply to Miss Emily LAU's enquiry about the suggestions of Sham Shui Po Provisional District Board for reducing nuisances to the public during the construction period, DDWS advised that the Administration had adjusted the alignments of some sections of the proposed watermains taking into account the District Board's suggestions. Where adjustment of the alignment was not feasible, the Administration had proposed to use pipe jacking instead of trench dredging to minimize nuisance to the public. He confirmed that the additional cost due to the use of pipe jacking for some mainlaying works had already been reflected in the estimates of the present proposal. Miss Emily LAU suggested that the additional costs required for the adoption of alternative construction methods to reduce environmental nuisances should also be specified in future waterworks proposals. The Administration noted the suggestion for further consideration.Admin.

72. Miss Cyd HO sought clarification on the implication of the proposed waterworks on water charges. DDWS advised that the estimated increase in water charges resulting from the waterworks under various funding proposals was calculated on the assumption that the increase would apply across-the-board in the territory and would take effect upon completion of the proposed works. The future depreciation of the facilities constructed under a project and the recurrent operating expenditure were the key variables in calculating the estimated increase in water charges. He also advised that, under the above assumption, the four waterworks proposals on the meeTING's agenda would contribute to a total increase in water charges of about 0.8%.

73. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)22 70TI Public transport interchange at area 3A, Tung Chung

74. Mr TAM Yiu-chung conveyed the concern of the Lantau Bus Company that the provision of only 12 bus bays at the interim bus terminus of area 3B would not be sufficient. In response, DDTD advised that an existing bus terminus at area 14, which was adjacent to area 3A, would be maintained during the construction of the proposed public transport interchange (PTI) at area 3A. It was considered that the two bus termini would be sufficient to meet the demand for bus service under the Phase 1 Tung Chung development before the completion of the proposed PTI at area 3A.

75. Mr TAM noted that the proposed PTI at area 3A would involve the construction and subsequent removal of the interim bus terminus at area 3B and the removal of the existing temporary bus terminus at area 3A and these works together would cost $10.1 million. He queried why a PTI had not been constructed at area 3A in the first place bearing in mind that the development plans for Tung Chung had been decided well in advance. In response, DDTD and the Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Project Management) (PAS/H(PM)) advised that area 3A had been designated as a comprehensive development area. In order to optimize the development potential of the site, the present bus terminus at area 3A needed to be removed to make way for the construction of a PTI and a proposed commercial development. Besides, area 3A was considered the most suitable location for a PTI to serve the Phase 1 Tung Chung development on account of its proximity to the Tung Chung Station of the Mass Transit Railway. Mr TAM was not satisfied with the explanation and considered that the aforesaid costs for removal and construction of bus terminals at areas 3A and 3B were partly attributed to poor planning by the Administration.

76. Mr CHAN Kam-lam enquired why the Housing Bureau, instead of the Transport Bureau, was the policy bureau responsible for this project. PAS/H(PM) explained that under the accelerated housing development programme, the Housing Bureau had agreed to take up the policy responsibility and to allocate funds from Head 711 - Housing under the Capital Works Reserve Fund to support necessary infrastructure works and community facilities for the implementation of housing developments.

77. The item was voted on and endorsed.

Head 703 - Buildings

PWSC(1999-2000)28174SCCommunity hall in the redevelopment at Cheung Sha Wan Shipyards, Sham Shui Po

78. In reply to Mr Edward HO's enquiries, the Deputy Director of Architectural Services (DDArchS) advised that the proposed community hall would form an integral part of the comprehensive redevelopment at the existing Cheung Sha Wan Shipyards under a surrender and re-grant lease agreement. To optimize land use, the developer concerned would not be required to construct a separate building to accommodate the community hall. He also confirmed that the community hall would only take 18 months to complete. However, as the whole development would not be completed within 5 years from the date of the lease agreement, the community hall could only commence in September 2004.

79. Noting that the Sham Shui Po District was already provided with three community centres and three community halls at present, Miss Emily LAU questioned whether it was justifiable to provide an additional community hall for the residents of Mei Foo, Lai Chi Kok and Lai Wan areas which together had a population of about 68 000. In this connection, she also enquired about the planning criteria for providing community hall facilities.

80. Mr James TO pointed out that although the project site was geographically close to Mei Foo, it was not conveniently accessible by local residents and the surrounding environment was rather unpleasant due to the predominant presence of industrial premises at present. He was thus concerned that the proposed community hall would not be fully utilized. Mr CHAN Kam-lam also enquired about the reasons for selecting the subject site for constructing a new community hall.

81. In response, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (5) (PAS/HA(5)) advised that under the previous planning standard, community halls were provided strictly according to the population size of the district concerned. In view of the rigidity of this planning standard which had resulted in inefficient utilization of community hall facilities in some districts, the Administration had revised the relevant planning standard guidelines to take into account other characteristics of the district community including the utilization of existing community hall facilities in the district, expectation and demand of the district community and the availability of similar facilities etc. Based on the new planning standard guidelines, the Administration had drawn up new plans for the provision of new community hall facilities in various districts.

82. As regards the utilization of the proposed community hall, PAS/HA(5) and AD/HA(2) advised that in the next five years, the population of the Mei Foo, Lai Chi Kok and Lai Wan areas (the area) in the Sham Shui Po District was estimated to increase by more than 100 000. According to the Planning Department, considerable residential developments would take place in the next five years at the shipyards redevelopment site and in its vicinity (including the redevelopment of the Kowloon Motor Bus Depot) with the provision of pedestrian links. A pedestrian link to the Lai Chi Kok Station of the Mass Transit Railway had also been included in the redevelopment in question. Hence, given the substantial population growth and the improvement in pedestrian access facilities, the Administration believed that there would be a strong demand for community hall facilities in the area and the location of the proposed community hall was appropriate.

83. In reply to Mr LEE Wing-tat's enquiry, DDArchS advised that relevant clauses would be included in the lease agreement to require the developer to provide separate entrances and exits for the community hall. The Administration would take up the management and maintenance of the community hall facilities.

84. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)29 247EP Two 24-classroom primary schools at Kowloon Tong

85. DDArchS agreed to consider Mr Edward HO's suggestion of relocating the basketball court of the proposed primary school (2) to the west of the school hall so that a bigger open playground could be provided for the school.

86. Mr Edward HO suggested that instead of building a fixed wall, a partitioning gate be installed between the two schools so that when necessary, the gate could be opened and the playgrounds of the two schools could be easily combined to form an enlarged playground for special events. In response, DDArchS confirmed that the suggestion appeared to be feasible, though additional cost might be required. The Assistant Director of Education (Planning and Research) (AD/E(P&R)) advised that the idea of sharing the use of facilities among several schools was being examined in conjunction with the study on "school villages". As the proposed two primary schools had to be urgently built to meet the demand for school places, it might not be feasible to modify the project plan to tie in with the study. Considering that the suggestion should not involve complicated administrative issues, Mr HO and Miss Emily LAU urged the Administration to further consider the suggestion without awaiting the results of the study on "school villages". DDArchS agreed to consider the suggestion.Admin.

87. Miss Emily LAU enquired whether the assembly hall of the proposed two schools could be used as a gymnasium as in the case of the proposed reprovisioned school under agenda item PWSC(1999-2000)30. In reply, DDArchS clarified that the assembly hall cum gymnasium under the latter item was a standard requirement for special schools. While the assembly hall would be equipped with special sports training facilities, its overall design was not based on the specifications for a standard gymnasium. Similarly, the assembly halls for the two primary schools could also be used as a venue for student activities such as badminton games but due to space and resource constraints, they could not be designed to meet the requirements of a standard gymnasium. DDArchS further advised that the internal height of the two assembly halls was seven metres while that of a standard badminton court was nine metres.

88. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(1999-2000)3088ET Reprovisioning of Buddhist Po Kong School at Tin Sum Village, Fanling

89. Noting that construction of the new school building for reprovsioning of the existing school was scheduled for completion in November 2000, Mr LEE Wing-tat enquired whether it was feasible to advance the completion to August 2000 to tie in with the commencement of the school year. In reply, DDArchS advised that in fact, construction of the school would commence as soon as funding for the project was approved and the contractor would also be required to complete the works by August 2000. However, in view of the tight timeframe, a few months' delay in the project due to unforeseen circumstances was probable.

90. Miss Emily LAU queried whether the planning of this project had been procrastinated, resulting in the school concerned having to endure the poor physical conditions of the existing school premises for an unduly long period. In response, AD/E(P&R) advised that for the past few years, the Administration had carried out repair works for the school and had been trying to identify a suitable site for the reprovisioning. He confirmed that the site identification process had taken about four years.

91. Addressing Miss Cyd HO's concern about the impact of the nuisances arising from the project works on the students of the school, DDArchS advised that as a temporary mitigation measure, air-conditioners would be installed at the classrooms of the existing school building before the works commenced. He also advised that air-conditioning would be provided at the classrooms of the new school building.

92. The item was voted on and endorsed.

93. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:45 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
11 June 1999