Following is the text (English only) of a speech by Secretary for Works, Mr Kwong Hon-sang, on Infrastructural Development at a luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Peninsula today (Tuesday) :-
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak at your Luncheon Meeting. I would just like to talk briefly on major infrastructural development that will take place in the next few years, and to show some slides about these plans.
Unlike most developed countries, Hong Kong does not have a very long history of infrastructural development. Recounting the situation before the Second World War, one can certainly say that infrastructural development in Hong Kong has since then taken a gigantic stride. Development in the last 30 years have been particularly dramatic, helping Hong Kong to turn into a large, modern international city with well developed, extensive and efficient infrastructure. Apart from supporting a population which increased from around two million people 50 years ago to the present 6.7 million, our infrastructure has to serve a vibrant business community engaging in international finance and trade activities.
The following statistics might be able to provide a better picture of our present position:
We have more than 150 kilometers of railway comprising some 77 kilometers under the present MTR and Airport Railway systems, plus 76 kilometers under the KCR East Rail and Tuen Mun Light Rail systems. Together they carry over 3.5 million passenger journeys daily.
We now have some 1,800 km of roads, including 116 km of expressway.
In 1997, we had about 1.9 million households; among these, some 3.3 million people, i.e. 50% of the population lived in 940,000 public housing flats.
The old airport at Kai Tak, largely constructed in the 1950s, was a milestone in the development of Hong Kong. Subsequent efforts to extend the airport runway and expand its capacity did much to prolong its service life. In 1997, there were about 170,000 flights, 28 million passengers and 1.8 million onnes of air cargo. These demands stretched the capacity of Kai Tak airport to its limits. The new airport at Chek Lap Kok has now an annual capacity of 35 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo. With full development in the long term its capacity could reach 87 million passengers and 9 million tonnes of cargo per year.
Port facilities in Hong Kong include 6 kilometers of quays at the eight existing container terminals, which can accommodate up to 19 third generation container ships simultaneously, plus 7.7 kilometers of quays at public cargo working areas and 61 mooring buoys for ocean-going vessels.
In 1998, Hong Kong handled 14.7ámillion twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers, making it one of the busiest ports in the world.
There are also two public passenger ferry terminals processing almost 18 million passenger trips a year to and from Mainland China and Macau. About 44,000 ocean-going vessels entered Hong Kong in 1997. On an average day there are about 250 ocean-going ships working in the port; 1,300 ocean-going and river trade crafts enter or leave the port, and about 10,000 craft working in and passing through the harbour.
There are about 500 schools, 8,000 hospital beds, some 250 community centres or elderly homes, over 80 recreational or cultural centres, over 80 markets, and more than 320 hectares of open space in Hong Kong.
The brief statistics I have just mentioned reflect only part of the very substantial investment we put in over the past decades. Despite the current economic downturn, the government will be investing even more in infrastructural development over the next few years. Such heavy investment in a timely manner is essential for meeting our long term development needs, and will extend and improve our infrastructure, making Hong Kong more competitive in the region.
The forthcoming infrastructural development includes a strategic highway network, railway lines, major land formation, the strategic sewage disposal scheme, and a programme for the construction and improvement of public buildings for community use and government offices. On top of these, Government will continue to invest significantly in public housing and port development.
One important part of this massive public works programme is the development of strategic highways. In the next 5 years, we shall spend over $30 bn to develope strategic highways. I would like to highlight some of them.
(1) The first one is Route 10.
This 30km dual 3-lane expressway will form the central
section of a proposed Western Highway, providing a new
north-south road corridor. When fully developed, it will
link the western tip of Hong Kong Island through North
Lantau to Yuen Long, and further to the Deep Bay Link.It
will ultimately link up with the highway networks in
Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta Area.
The project include a 4 km twin tube tunnel, 3 km of which
will be in the form of submerged tunnels, a 5km long bored
tunnel and a major suspension bridge. When completed,
this road bridge will be longer than the world-renowned
Tsing Ma Bridge recently completed. However, the design
of the bridge has been complicated by the need to provide
adequate clearance above the shipping channel below,
while at the same time keeping the bridge towers within
aviation height restriction envelope.
Construction of the Route 10 will commence in phases from
2002 for completion by 2009. [Overall estimated project
cost around $50bn]
(2) The second project is the Deep Bay Link.
As I have just mentioned, the Deep Bay Link is a proposed
trunk road north of Route 10 providing connection to the
proposed crossing to Shenzen. It will also be a dual
3-lane highway about 5.4 km long. Construction will
commence in 2002 for completion in 2004. [Project cost
I shall talk about the border crossings later.
(3) The third project is Route 7.
The proposed Route 7 has been part of our strategic road
development plan for many years. It will run along the
western coastline of Hong Kong Island providing an
expressway link between the Southern District and the
northern shore of Hong Kong Island.
The proposed expressway is 8 km long, dual 3-lane in width,
including 2 bored tunnels of 1 km in total length.
It will alleviate traffic congestion anticipated at the
existing major road corridors to and from the Southern
District. It will also be a major connector to the
proposed Cyberport which has attracted much interest
lately. At this moment I can only say that plans are
still being developed, and could have an impact on the
Route 7 project.
The Route 7 project is tentatively scheduled to commence
in 2003 for completion in 2009. [project cost around $15bn]
(4) The fourth project is the Central-Wan Chai Bypass.
This proposed trunk road will provide a much needed
bypass to the existing busy corridor along the northern
shore of Hong Kong Island.
It will be 4km long, dual 2-lane in width, including a
2.3km long semi-submerged tunnel. Pending the necessary
finalisation of planning and statutory procedures
involving the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation, the
expressway construction is expected to commence in 2003
for completion in 2007. [project cost around $8bn]
(5) The fifth one is the section of Route 9 from Tsing Yi to
Cheung Sha Wan.
This section of Route 9 will provide an alternative route
to Route 3 between Tsing Yi and West Kowloon and will
connect with the proposed Route 16 and the existing West
Kowloon Highway. It will also provide road connection
to the new Container Terminal 9 currently under
construction. This 7.6 km section will be a dual 3-lane
highway, comprising a 1.2km twin tube bored tunnel, a
suspension or cable-stayed bridge with a main span of
about 1000m, and some 4 km of approach viaducts. The
construction of the long span bridge will be a challenging
task as the bridge will be built over the busy container
Construction will commence in 2002 for completion in 2008.
[project cost around $20bn].
(6) The sixth project is Route 16.
Route 16 will provide a new expressway running from Sha
Tin to West Kowloon. It will be of dual 3-lane standard
including two sections of bored tunnels with a total
length of 3.6 km.
It will significantly alleviate traffic congestion at
existing roads and tunnels linking Sha Tin and urban
Kowloon, and will provide an expressway linking
Northeast NT to the new airport through Sha Tin.
Construction will commence in 2001 for completion in 2005.
[project cost around $8bn]
(7) The seventh one is the Central Kowloon Route.
The Central Kowloon Route will be a 2.6 km, dual 2-lane
road tunnel underneath the existing urban Kowloon
Peninsula, linking the existing West Kowloon Highway
with the road network of the proposed South East Kowloon
Development. To minimise demolition of private
residential property at its western end, a tunnel route
has been carefully chosen to pass between existing
buildings. Towards the east, the tunnel will be double
decked in order to reduce the width required, so as to
minimise impacts on adjacent property. Construction of
the main works is planned to take place between 2003 and
2007. [project cost around $8bn]
Before moving on to railway development, I would like to mention briefly two cross border connections. In order to cope with the forecast increase in cross-boundary traffic between Hong Kong and the Mainland, especially for the Pearl River Delta, two major bridge crossings are under active planning and discussion by the HKSAR Government and the Mainland Authorities.
The two bridges are the Deep Bay Crossing (i.e. Shenzhen Western Corridor) between Shekou in Shenzhen and Yuen Long, and the Lingding Yang Bridge linking Zhuhai and Tuen Mun.
The Deep Bay Crossing will be about 5 km across the Deep Bay. It will link up Route 10 in Hong Kong to the highways in Shenzhen which further connect to the strategic highway network in southern China. The traffic forecast study for this strategic link has recently been completed.
The Lingding Yang Bridge will be 27 km in total length. It will include a suspension bridge with a 65 m vertical clearance above the East Lingding Channel and bridge towers of about 200 m in height. The effects on aviation due to the high bridge towers are being assessed. Feasibility study on the whole Lingding Yang Bridge project has just been completed. The cost is about óD16 Bn.
I would now like to turn to another category of major infrastructure, which is the Strategic Railway Projects.
Government announced a Railway Development Strategy in 1994 for a major expansion of the existing 153 kilometers railway network under which priority will be given to the construction of three railway projects:- West Rail (Phase 1), MTR Tseung Kwan O Extension and Ma On Shan to Tai Wai Link & Tsim Sha Tsui Extension.
Other railway projects currently under study include West Rail (Phase II), East Kowloon Line, Fourth cross harbour rail link, North Hong Kong Island Line, Second Connection from Ma On Shan/Tai Wai Link to urban areas.
About the three priority railway projects :
(1) The first one is the West Rail (Phase 1).
This is about 30 km long comprising 2 long tunnels,
elevated structures and 9 railway stations. It is being
implemented by KCRC at an estimated cost of around $63bn.
The design and construct contracts for the two long
tunnels started in September and October last year,
while other packages will commence progressively. The
construction is scheduled for completion in late 2003.
(2) The second priority railway project is an extension of
the MTR to Tseung Kwan O.
The Extension will provide the much-needed mass transit
service to meet the new towns growth, which is generating
great demand for commuter transportation. The project
cost is around $30bn. The railway line is about 12.5 km
long. Construction will soon commence for completion in
(3) The third priority railway project is the Ma On Shan to
Tai Wai Link and an Extension of the existing railway
from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST Extension).
The 11.4 km railway will provide a new passenger rail
service to Ma On Shan. There will also be a 1.5km extension
of the existing East Rail from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui
to serve the busy tourist area in urban Kowloon. The
project is at a detailed planning stage and is targeted
for commencement in early 2000 for completion in 2004.
The cost of the project is around $16bn.
Land formation is another important category of major infrastructure projects under the Public Works Programme in the next few years.
In order to meet long term development need, we have to provide more land. A number of large scale land formation projects including the Green Island Development, South East Kowloon Development, Tseung Kwan O Development, Tsuen Wan Bay Further Reclamation, and the Central and Wanchai Reclamation have been planned. These projects can provide very substantial land for development as well as for accommodating some of the proposed strategic highways mentioned earlier. Following recent consultation, however, the Government is currently reviewing some of these plans to take into consideration the feedback and views from the public and various professional bodies mainly concerning preservation of the harbour and other environmental aspects.
As a long term solution to protect the water quality in our harbour, we are currently implementing the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme in stages. The whole project includes the construction of a network of about 56 kilometers of deep tunnels to convey sewage collected from the urban areas for centralised treatment on Stonecutters Island before it is ultimately discharged into the ocean via 9 kilometers of submarine tunnel outfall.
Stage I with a project cost of about $8bn is now under construction. Upon its completion in the year 2000, sewage collected from Kowloon and the north-eastern part of Hong Kong Island will be collected through deep tunnels at about 130 m below ground level. They will then be transported to the centralised chemically enhanced treatment works on Stonecutters Island, and discharged after treatment into the west harbour in the interim via a deep tunnel outfall.
Stage II which is being planned will consist of another deep tunnel from the sewage treatment works at Stonecutters Island, conveying the treated sewage via Lamma Island, with further treatment if necessary, to an oceanic outfall in the waters south of Hong Kong.
Stages III and IV will provide additional sewers collecting sewage from the northern and south-western part of Hong Kong Island.
PUBLIC BUILDING PROJECTS
Building projects also form a very important part of the Public Works Programme. Over the next five years we will spend around $50bn on public building projects which do not include public housing works.
These include the re-development of 3 hospitals, and the construction of 210 new schools, 20 community halls and 20 government office buildings. We are also planning to build a Science Park at Pak Shek Kok. Phase I will consist of multi-tenant buildings for research and development facilities. The project cost is expected to be in the order of $2bn. Works are scheduled to commence next year.
Ladies and gentlemen, the projects I have just mentioned are only the very major ones and represent only part of our Public Works Programme, which consists of over 1,000 active project items each costing at least $15M. While their implementation can provide plenty of jobs and business opportunities to the construction and other related trade sectors, they also offer a clear indication of the Governments commitment to build a better foundation for a brighter future of Hong Kong.
End/Tuesday, March 23, 1999