Public works projects with a total value of nearly HK$80 billion are set to awarded in the new financial year as the government maintains its high level of capital works expenditure.
According to the estimates included in the government budget for the financial year 2013/14 delivered by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah last week, the estimated cost of new projects set to start totalled HK$92.53 billion.
However further checking by Construction Post revealed that about HK$12.75 billion of this cost for four projects has already been awarded recently, leaving about HK$79.78 billion worth of public works still to be awarded.
Keen interest is expected for the biggest single item, the Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link construction works with a rough estimate of cost of HK$44.81 billion.
Highways Department invited prequalification submissions for the project’s Northern Connection – Subsea tunnel section in May last year with a view to calling tenders later in September.
Other big ticket items with estimated cost include the Reprovisioning of Yau Mau Tei Police Station (HK$1.16 billion), Reconstruction and rehabilitation of Kai Tak nullah from Tung Kwong Road to Prince Edward East (HK$1.36 billion) and the Widening of Tolo/Fanling Highway between Island House Interchange and Fanling (HK$3.39 billion).
Other big projects include Kai Tak development stages 3A and 4 infrastructure at north apron area of Kai Tak Airport (HK$2.26 billion), Reprovisioning of Yaumatei Specialist Clinic at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (HK$1.89 billion) and the Establishment of Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics (HK$13.82 billion).
Architectural Services Department invited prequalification submissions for Yaumatei Police Station and Yaumatei Specialist Clinic in March last year with tendering scheduled to start later in about August.
Contractors can expect the Tseung Kwan O to Lam Tin Tunnel project to start perhaps during the 2014/15 financial year as the government is looking to tender out detailed design and site investigation for the project at an estimated cost of HK$196 million for a scheduled start in the third quarter of 2013/14.
Those contractors with access to dredging equipment may be interested in a project for providing sufficient water depth for Kwai Tsing Container Basin and its approach channel with an estimated cost of HK$488 million with start date scheduled for the last quarter of this year.
The government will be looking to improve the existing ferry piers at Central with a project for additional floors at Central Piers 4, 5 and 6 costing an estimated HK$559 million.
A section 16 planning permission application was submitted in July last year but the Town Planning Board is still mulling over the plan which calls for adding one and a half floors on top of the existing Central Piers 4, 5 and 6 and to convert the upper decks of the piers to commercial use.
This project to add additional floors was put forward originally by Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) (0050), an associate of leading developer Henderson Land (0012), in around 1998 but fell through after disputes over payment for foundation work carried out by the government and then a tussle over land premium.
Budding chefs in Hong Kong will have a dedicated facility to train in if the government goes through with a project for the development of the Vocational Training Council International Culinary College costing an estimated HK$658 million and scheduled to start work in the second quarter of 2013/14.
The government is already busy in calling tenders for some projects.
Currently under tendering are projects such as the various infrastructure contracts for the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, the Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link Southern Connection Viaduct Section and Kai Tak Development Stage 3A infrastructure at former north apron area.
Contractors already have their hands full with mega-projects such as the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Shatin – Central Link, Central – Wanchai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
The total forecast spending in 2013/14 for these four projects alone is HK$30.87 billion.
Apart from mentioning that the government was committed to spending over HK$70 billion annually on capital works expenditure for the next few years, the Financial Secretary said he was looking to increase land supply.
To that end, the government is planning on spending HK$4.5 billion over the next five years on studies and design work on reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, opening up new development areas and development of caverns.
It would also make further studies on a proposed desalination plant in Tseung Kwan O.
“The former [caverns) has logic as a strategy to free up land space but the latter is a mystery. Is this a test case in preparation for when China turns our water supply off?” one cost consultant said.