Should legislators reject a funding request for an additional HK$5.46 billion for building the troubled Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the government will have to cancel some facilities, which will cause inconvenience for users, the director of highways warned.
Lau Ka-keung said without the extra outlay, the government can only build facilities that are strictly necessary when the bridge opens instead of preparing ahead for future demands.
“There would be only facilities at the border to serve the basic needs. For example, the number of vehicle inspection kiosks would not be able to cater to increased demand in the future. Or we have to go without a parking lot. It is highly unsatisfactory,” he told a meeting of the Legislative Council public works subcommittee under the Finance Committee yesterday. With fewer border clearance counters, waiting time will lengthen, he added.
To add the facilities later, another round of tendering will be necessary, with costs likely to rise further, he said.
Back In November 2011, the Finance Committee approved the project estimate of HK$30.4 billion, but the government seeks to boost the overall budget to HK$35.9 billion, citing higher-than-expected superstructure costs.
The Highways Department has announced a one-year delay to the completion date of the bridge’s Hong Kong section, which will now be the end of 2017.
Lawmakers were concerned whether the funding request would be the last one they needed to approve, or whether the government would be able to cap construction costs.
The Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan stated: “What I am most upset about is the government’s repeated claims that if we did not approve the funding, the project would be left unfinished. They use the same reason for the high speed rail.”
Tony Tse Wai-chuen, the architectural, surveying and planning sector lawmaker, said that as a shortage of labor and building materials are predictable problems, why this was not foreseen at all.
Undersecretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu said he believed there will be no need to seek more funding from the Finance Committee before the bridge’s opening if the HK$5.46 billion funding is approved.
There will be serious implications for the project if it was rejected, he said.
Highways chief in cash call for Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.