The current developments of the Light Rail Transit (LRT), one of Macau’s most controversial infrastructure projects, was the focus of a committee meeting held yesterday at the Legislative Assembly.
According to the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário, the completion of the LRT is a “priority.”
“By the end of this year we will finish the construction of the Taipa Island LRT section, which is comprised of 11 stations,” the secretary said on the sidelines of the meeting.
Taipa’s LRT line spans a total of 9.3km and will connect Taipa Ferry Terminal to the area of Ocean Gardens, passing through Cotai and the Lotus Checkpoint, and according to Raimundo do Rosário, “will be in operation in 2019.”
The secretary mentioned that the final budget for the Taipa line would be MOP11 billion, with the estimate including fees relating to the construction of a depot in Taipa.
Although the first priority was clearly stated to be the Taipa line, the secretary also mentioned other goals. He said that the government would also start analysing how to connect the Taipa section with a station planned for a site near A-Ma Temple on Macau Peninsula.
After those works are concluded construction is expected to start on another line, the Taipa-Coloane Isthmus Causeway towards the Coloane side ending at Seac Pai Van. This line will have a length of about 2 kilometers and will have two stations, a first one at the new island health complex and a second one at the public housing development of Seac Pai Van,” the secretary explained in detail, stating also that the project will be developed in one go, from start to finish.
“We will not ‘break this into pieces’ again, the project will be [completed in one go] and the line of Seac Pai Van will be one line with 2 stations and will be one work.”
As for the Macau Peninsula, the secretary did not want to mention any dates for the project’s projected conclusion, since it is still at a very early stage and faces many objections. Nevertheless, the head of the territory’s Transport and Public Works did state that a decision on the layout and details of the Macau lines would be made this year.
The secretary further stated the government was in discussion with the mainland authorities regarding a proposed section of the Light Rapid Transit system that would connect Macau to Hengqin Island,
After the meeting, the Follow-Up Committee on Land and Public Concession Affairs president, Ho Ion Sang, said that “the government has been following with more discipline the entire public tender process for the [LRT] depot, which usually takes about eight months. This time the government expects to shorten this period, which will lead to the works starting in the fourth quarter of this year.”
Another of the innovative solutions that the government is adopting in order to expedite the construction and commence the operation of the Taipa line is to establish a scheme of prizes and penalties for the building companies in relation to the construction deadlines for major stages of the project.
For the particular project of the depot and materials park, a total of 14 deadlines have been established. If they are fully respected, the construction company will receive a bonus of 8 percent of the total budget, which would
represent around MOP80m, Ho Ion Sang stated.
As for the penalties, the same spokesperson said that the government has not yet informed him of the sums.
Questioned by a journalist about what the committee thought of this practice, Ho said, “the policy [of establishing bonuses and penalties] is common practice in the private construction sector.” Ho also added, that “[construction delays] in most of the cases create a bigger harm,” and he considers that the government has been “courageous” in presenting “new solutions.”
Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) Co-ordinator, Ho Cheong Kei.
git to be closed by 2017
The Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT), the entity responsible for the construction management of the Light Rail Transit (LRT), will be shut down by 2017, Ho Ion Sang recalled. The lawmaker added that in its place a new management company for the LRT would be created, similar to what happened with the Macau International Airport Co. Ltd (CAM). This company will be owned totally by the government and will call upon the HK MTR Company as a consultant that, according to Ho, will be mainly responsible for the “conception, exploring and inspection” of the LRT. The contract with the HK company was completed with a direct awarding of MOP474 million.