Contractors waiting for the troubled Lung Mei beach project in Tai Po to be awarded may be forgiven for wondering if the tide has literally gone out on their tenders.
Earlier this week, after being informed by the Environmental Protection Department that it would not be revoking the environmental permit for the project, environmentalists opposed to the beach plan issued a final ultimatum to the government threatening a judicial review.
In response to enquiries by Construction Post, a spokeswoman for the Civil Engineering and Development Department said the validity of the tenders which were submitted in October last year has been extended two times already.
“According to the Government’s guidelines, a validity period of tenders is normally 90 days from the deadline for the submission of tenders,” the spokeswoman said.
However this validity period could be adjusted when tenderers submitted tenders based on their own designs for part of the works.
According to earlier news reports, the expiry date for the extended validity period for the project was now early June.
The department declined to disclose information regarding the number of tenderers or how many have withdrawn their tenders due to the delay in awarding the project.
Asked if it was unreasonable to extend the validity period when contractors based their rates on a forecast start late last year when their rates still reflected their costs, the spokeswoman said: “The Contract Price Fluctuation clause in the contract allows adjustments in the tendered prices for changes in labour and material costs.”
A quantity surveyor at a listed contractor said prices of labour and materials have been holding steady since last October.
“Therefore the construction cost should be nearly the same with the original tender estimate,” the QS said, adding that civil engineering projects for the government typically allowed for price fluctuations to help the contractor recover its costs.
The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved funding of HK$208.2 million at money-of-the-day (MOD) prices for the project last July.
The works include a 200-metre long bathing beach with groyne (a kind of wave barrier made of rubble mound), beach buildings, a refuse collection point and a fee-paying carpark.
Work was supposed to start last November for completion in November 2014.
The department said it had no plans to retender in the event of a dramatic change in project scope.
As to the planned investigation of alleged maladministration by government departments over the beach project by the Office of the Ombudsman, the spokeswoman declined to comment.