Following is the text (English Only) of the speech delivered by the Secretary for Works, Mr Kwong Hon-sang, at the closing dinner of the Seminar on "Structural Aspects of the ACP projects" organised by the Structural Division of the Hong Kong Insitution of Engineers" today (Friday):
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your kind invitation to this dinner to mark the closing of the one-day seminar on "Structural Aspects of the ACP projects".
I am delighted to have the opportunity to say a few words on the success of the Airport Core Programme and the future challenge of the Public Works Programme.
For many years the Structural Division has organised annual seminars to facilitate engineers, researchers and students to exchange their views and ideas in the field of structural engineering. These seminars cover a variety of topics and are largely well received. I believe today's seminar on the ACP projects is probably one of the most interesting ones.
The ACP is one of the largest Fast-track infrastructure project ventures in the world, and was completed on time and within budget. The dedication, the effort, as well as the achievements attained by the engineering professionals and the contractors have been widely recognised. Undoubtedly, the success of the ACP has attracted a lot of international attention. The Airport Terminal Building is named as one of the Top 10 Construction Achievement in the 20th Century. The Tsing Ma Bridge was given the Supreme Award for year 1997 by the British Construction Industry. People who have visited our new airport and the exhibition centre of Tsing Ma Bridge will appreciate the achievement of these magnificent projects.
Now that the second runway is scheduled for opening soon, marking practically the completion of the whole ACP, it is good opportunity to review and consolidate our experience gained in the ACP projects. Today's seminar provides one of the forums of this kind.
I believe we can all agree that the ACP has provided a lot of opportunities for the engineering professionals and the construction industry to work on the forefronts of engineering technology. We have also acquired considerable experience in intelligent control systems and project management for mega projects. The experience gained in the ACP will certainly help us to uphold our well-earned international reputation in ensuring high professional standards, excellent quality of work and effective project management. With such a wealth of experience behind us, we will be able to meet further challenges ahead and ensure another success for the coming major projects to be delivered in the Public Works Programme.
Completing the new airport does not mean that there will be reduction in our future investment in infrastructure development. On the contrary, in the coming years, we are entrusted with the mission to deliver an even more ambitious Public Works Programme. A lot will be spent to further improve our railway and highway system, and to provide sufficient housing and related infrastructure, in line with the policy commitments of the HKSAR Government.
Indeed, over the next five years we will spend around HK$235 billion on infrastructure development. This is in fact 50% more than what we spend on the New Airport. Apart from the three railway projects, namely the West Rail Phase 1, Ma On Shan Link and Tseung Kwan O Extension, there are also over 1000 government funded public works projects in the current programme. This would certainly keep the construction industry busy in the next few years. Besides, the Cyber Port and the Disneyland scheme, if an agreement can be reached, will generate additional work. Another issue which would have a bearing on the construction industry is the recent Court of Appeal ruling. Although the exact consequence has yet to be ascertained, it seems inevitable that Government needs to invest further on housing and the supporting infrastructures.
Implementing all the proposed large scale public works projects is not an easy task. No doubt we will face a lot of difficulties, but with the capability and experience of our construction industry which has been fully demonstrated in the successful completion of the major projects in the past, I am confident that the proposed major projects in the Public Works Programme will be completed on time, within budget and with good quality to meet the needs and aspirations of the community.
Although currently we are facing a temporary economic downturn, our infrastructure projects, which are required for our long term development will definitely proceed as planned. The implementation of these infrastructure projects will create ample employment opportunities for the local construction work force, the engineers and technicians. With the support and effort from all of you, we are confident that our economy will regain momentum very quickly and there will be more opportunities ahead of us.
Before closing, I would like to take this opportunity to mention the Tall Building and Urban Habitat Centre set up by the University of Hong Kong. Our structural engineers have contributed a lot to the development of tall buildings and our urban form. Our experience in these areas is unique and I believe we are in a leading role in many respects. I am organising a tall building seminar with the Academy of Building Research of the Ministry of Construction in early June. I hope this is a starting point of co-operation in the field of tall building construction so that later on this can help promote our professional service in this area on Mainland projects. I therefore wish to urge you to consider to render support to our Tall Building Centre. Information can be obtained through the Civil and Structural Engineering Department of the University.
Finally, I am very pleased to note that today's seminar has received strong support from the industry. I wish the Structural Division every success in your future events.
End/Friday, May 7, 1999