Policy Address Construction Goodies

Policy Address Construction Goodies

But little mention on resources to meet workload

The government has unveiled a raft of new policy initiatives that is expected to add to the already-full order books of the construction industry but with little mention on resources to meet the workload.

In his second policy address on Wednesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated his election pledge to provide more land for housing and commercial and industrial uses.

In particular, Leung announced that the government has formally accepted the recommendation of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee to provide 470,000 units in the next 10 years, of which 60 percent would be public housing.

To meet this target, the government will aim to build 20,000 public rental housing units and about 8,000 Home Ownership Scheme units per year.

“This would mean that the supply of public housing in the coming ten years will increase by 36 percent compared to what was pledged by the government last year,” Leung said in his address to the Legislative Council.

Land for private developers to meet the 470,000 target would also be provided by the government as a matter of course.

Apart from housing for the public and private sectors, contractors can expect continued spending on infrastructure, although, as usual, it may take some time before contractors can actually get their hands on the new work.

A new town, the “East Lantau Metropolis” that will include the eastern waters off Lantau Island and neighbouring areas, is under consideration and to prepare for it, a Lantau Development Advisory Committee will be formed to study the economic and social development strategy for Lantau Island.

To capture the business opportunities arising from the impending completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and burgeoning traffic at Hong Kong International Airport, Leung said a detailed study will be carried out on the supporting infrastructure for feasibility of developing major shopping, dining, entertainment and hotel facilities at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities artificial island.

More railway work is in the pipeline with the government “actively considering taking forward” the South Island (West) project of the MTR Corporation (0066) as the current West Island Line and South Island Line (East) projects are nearing completion.

The decision to go ahead with the new railway extension was influenced in part by the government deciding to lift a development moratorium at the south of Pok Fu Lam to pave the way for future development of public housing as well as the redevelopment of Wah Fu Estate to provide 11,900 additional units.

Similarly at the New Development Areas of Kwu Tung North and Hung Shui Kiu, Leung reaffirmed plans to add a station each on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and West Rail Line to serve these two areas.

Reclamation currently in progress for the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities in this photo taken on 10 January 2014. The government will carry out a study on the infrastructure required for major commercial development on the artificial island  (Danny Chung)

Reclamation currently in progress for the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities in this photo taken on 10 January 2014. The government will carry out a study on the infrastructure required for major commercial development on the artificial island (Danny Chung)

The relocation of the Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works to rock caverns took closer step to reality with the announcement that the feasibility study has been completed and that planning is in progress for investigation and design work.

Feasibility studies are being prepared for relocating sewage works and reservoirs at Sai Kung, Sham Tseng and Diamond Hill.

Potentially more underground construction work could be on offer.

“The government has commenced a study to identify districts with potential for developing urban underground space, with a view to increasing usable space and enhancing connectivity in the urban areas,” Leung said.

Meanwhile four districts, Tsim Sha Tsui West, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and Admiralty/Wan Chai, have been selected for a pilot study on underground space.

Among the new government buildings planned are an acute general hospital in Kai Tak Development, of which a strategic study is underway, and a Chinese medicine hospital, of which a site has been reserved in Tseung Kwan O.

The feasibility of a setting up a civil aviation training institute is being considered to train up workers to meet the further development of the aviation industry.

The pace of private development, frequently stalled due to disagreements over the land premium on lease modification between the government and developers, could get a burst of the accelerator pedal.

Leung announced a pilot scheme for arbitration on land premiums to facilitate early agreement on land premium thereby speeding up the necessary land administration stage to allow faster implementation of private development projects.

With all the construction goodies in the pipeline, there was scant mention on the resources needed to cope with this workload.

Leung however said the government was conducting of comprehensive review public works policies.

“The review aims to promote the healthy development of the industry and raise its productivity, which includes improving design and construction methodologies, utilizing more advanced technology, enhancing the list system for public works contractors, promoting innovation and creativity, and putting more efforts to tackle the problem of manpower shortage to meet the needs of various infrastructure projects,” Leung said.

Danny Chung

 

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