Inaugurated yesterday morning after about 12 years in construction, the new Pac On Ferry Terminal (officially named Taipa Maritime Terminal) will finally commence operations from June 1, the director of the Marine and Water Bureau (DSAMA) Susana Wong announced during the facility’s official inauguration yesterday.
It was previously announced that the major public construction would carry a hefty bill after many delays and several budgetary miscarriages – which at the last estimation, amounted to MOP3.8 billion.
But Wong said that “this is the end of phase 2. We will enter phase 3 as soon as possible after the new terminal enters into operation.”
Phase 3 involves the demolition of the old temporary ferry terminal (built during phase 1) as well as the construction of a new fuel park onsite to supply the vessels operating in the new terminal.
Questioned by the media on how much phase 3 could add to the bill, which already sits atMOP3.8 billion, Wong said, “I don’t know exactly. This is a process led by GDI [Infrastructure Development Office] and it is they who determine the budget.”
Wong said, “the third phase will take about one year to conclude.”
Other ancillary services form part of the overall ferry terminal project, but will not be ready for the opening date. According to Wong, “the restaurants, snack [and souvenir] shops and tourism agency offices will not be ready by June 1 as we need some time to prepare – probably one or two months more.”
It is currently unclear as to how many staff DSAMA would require to operate the new terminal. Wong mentioned that the department responsible for overseeing the operations of all terminals will manage staffing issues.
The DSAMA director also said to expect that with the opening of the new terminal, the proportion of total visitors using this route will gradually increase by 5 percentage points or more.
“We are not expecting very drastic growth, but gradual growth nonetheless. At this moment, the temporary terminal accounts for about 35 percent of the total number of passengers but we believe that this will increase to 40 or 40-something percent,” Wong said remarking that in the face of such growth, other amenities would be added. These include additional services, improvements to the general environment, and a larger parking lot than that of the previous terminal.
For the time being, the establishment of new routes and transport companies will not take place. Wong said, “this is merely a transition [from the temporary terminal] at this stage. We want this to occur as smoothly as possible. This is the most important priority at the moment.” He noted that the inclusion of additional travel options will be mostly “dependent on the market.”
Another topic highlighted by the media concerned how the new terminal would be served by public transport.
Wong replied to these questions saying that the decision as to whether or not to increase the number and frequency of bus routes serving the terminal depends on the demand from people, noting that the Transport Bureau is already taking this issue into consideration.
The mega structure that will enter into operation on June 1 covers an area of 200,000 square metres with 16 bridge-quays for fast ferries as well as three multipurpose berths that can be used for several kinds of ships.
The heliport that completes the transportation capabilities of the terminal has the capacity for five helicopters.
To serve passengers, there are also a total of 127 immigration desks in place and a parking lot with capacity for 1,000 vehicles.
The construction started on troubled footing, and there are still some problems yet to be solved, as anticipated by Wong in the conclusion of her speech. “The construction of the TMPT was enormous and the difficulties found [in the process] were big. We expect that after becoming operative, the TMPT will still have room for further improvement and optimization.”
Yesterday’s event was attended by Chief Executive Chui Sai On and the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário.
Half-hearted start for taipa terminal
Officially entering into operations on June 1, the new ferry terminal will be far from working full steam ahead. As announced by the DSAMA director, Susana Wong, the terminal will only operate half of the quays for fast ferries – eight out of a possible sixteen, for now. Restaurants, shops and tourism services are not expected to be in place before August this year. At the inauguration, Wong mentioned that the terminal will mostly target large tour groups visiting Macau as “individual travelers are expected to still continue to prefer to travel to the Outer Harbor Ferry Terminal [on the Macau Peninsula].”
Secretary admits problems and undervalues budget slippage
The Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário, admitted problems with the Pac On Ferry Terminal building and undervalued the several budget ammendments that led to the final budget of MOP3.8 billion.
Rosário, speaking to the media on the sidelines of the inauguration of the new Taipa terminal, said, “It is also necessary to say that in the beginning [first project] the terminal had eight berthing places, now it has 16” he explained the difference in dimension of the current project, as the reason for the greater than anticipated costs. “When the project started it was very small, however, it has undergone successive changes so that now we have this building that is even larger than the airport passengers terminal. [This said] I do not think there has been great [budget] slippage.”
The secretary also acknowledges that although new, “A part of this [building] was completed already around ten years ago,” noting, “it’s normal that there are some problems, I have always acknowledged this, but [that is why] we are here: to solve them,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, questioned by the media on the problems with staff hired under his supervision, Rosário admitted the problem of irregular contracts for outsourced personel exists although insisted that it that was of a “small scale.”
“We have probably four or five cases (I’m sure that is less than half a dozen) and the way to solve this [them] is to let the contracts finish and after that we have to rectify the situation (in the ones possible to do that). There is no other way,” he said. Regarding the CCAC report on the affordable housing, backing the buyers, Rosário said “We are going to follow all the recommendations issued.”