The majority of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) projects have been carried out within timetable and budget, the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário, announced during a Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary meeting on Friday.
The parliament debated the LRT project in addition to matters concerning the project’s budget and deadlines, which were discussed by lawmakers and clarified by the Secretary.
Answering lawmaker Angela Leong’s question regarding the project requiring extended time for completion, Rosário suggested the lawmaker check with the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) and with the Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) in order to follow the project’s progress.
“Eighty percent, or 90 percent of this matter has already been solved. This problem [over time and over budget] does not exist. […] One or two projects indeed have those problems. […] Please check the information we provide you on our website. Please don’t repeat this question again,” said Rosário.
The Secretary also responded to a statement which says that he would leave many tasks to the next government.
“The things I will leave to the next government will be less than the things I received [from the previous government],” said the Secretary.
Sulu Sou voiced that the government “does not have a budget,” and that all numbers concerning said budget are only an estimate. He wants the government to solve the LRT problem.
“I agree with you, the most important [thing] is solving the problem. […] These problems [that the lawmakers are raising] were ones which had been asked about before,” said the Secretary.
Rosário’s department decided that once the LRT Taipa section is done, the next consideration for the LRT line should be based on the Taipa section. In view of such reasoning, the government delayed the construction of an LRT system in Macau.
Many lawmakers wanted the Secretary to explain whether it is feasible to extend the LRT line to the Inner Harbor area. “I have never [done any research] on whether the Inner Harbor line is feasible. I have not spent time doing research because there are many important things to be done. […] In the near future, the LRT will become the main [transportation], while buses will become a subsidiary,” he explained.
Agnes Lam also criticized the government for not having a clear budget for the LRT project on the Macau side.
“You can continue your criticism. It’s not that I don’t give you a budget. It’s because I am unable to give you one. […] I don’t even know which line goes where. How could I give you a budget? But, about the Barra section budgets, I can give you information,” said Rosário.
Previously, it was announced that the LRT had been planned to be extended to Hengqin. According to Raimundo, the government has launched research on an extension. However, due to issues posed by the border division, the government is still not making a final decision considering the location of the LRT Hengqin station.
“If the border gate is not the target of the decision, I don’t know [where the station will be located],” said Rosário.
Lawmaker Cheung Lup Kwan wants the government to suspend the LRT project. “The LRT is related to Macau people’s history and memory. In the beginning, [residents] were excited about it. But from then to now, residents have gone from being excited to being disappointed. I think that today, when we talk about this thing [the LRT], we should temporarily suspend it,” said Cheung.
“If, suddenly, the LRT is suspended and the money gets distributed among residents, they will be even happier,” said Cheung.
Regarding the LRT budget, Rosário once again noted that the budget for the LRT Taipa section is MOP11 billion and for the Taipa to Barra section is MOP4.5 billion. Moreover, there is another MOP2.5 billion for projects which have not been completed yet. In total, the LRT expenditure is estimated at MOP18 billion.
Ho Ion Sang voiced his disagreement toward the suspension of the LRT project. In the lawmaker’s opinion, the suspension will deem all expenditures to have been made in vain, and will deem the LRT Taipa section an international joke.
More lawmakers, including Leong Sun Iok, also supported the continuation of the LRT project. However, they hope that the government can improve budget transparency, speed up the construction process, and complete the project on time.