The government could not provide a timetable for the completion of the New Urban Zone A public housing projects despite the public tender running on schedule, Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo Arrais do Rosário announced during yesterday’s Legislative Assembly plenary meeting.
Lawmakers were mostly concerned about economic housing projects and the construction progress of public housing, as well as the Macau SAR government’s policy that prioritizes public housing over economic housing.
The same concerns were raised for the Wai Long public housing project, as were the hopes that in 2020, the overall design work of Zone A public housing can be finished.
At present, the Housing Bureau plans to use eight land plots on New Urban Zone A to build public houses or related facilities, including seven public housing projects and one community facility.
Talking about young people’s desire to purchase houses, Rosário posed, “is there any government that guarantees people will have houses the moment they are born?”
Regarding delayed public housing projects, Rosário responded by saying that the slow development of public housing is not related to the government’s administration, but lawmakers expect construction to finish faster than the government, which means that in the eyes of lawmakers, the projects are delayed when in fact they are not.
Urban master plan
In 2019, a revised first draft of the first phase of Macau’s urban master plan was submitted to the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT). The master plan will be revealed in an administrative draft and will define each district’s position in addition to suggesting what kind of houses should be built on the district. In the coming weeks, multiple governmental departments will discuss the draft and will communicate with the relevant contractor.
The draft is expected to be submitted for public consultation within the year. Rosário believes that a master plan is the most important topic in the land, transport and public works areas.
In addition, Rosário reported that in the short term, DSSOPT will have a new director. Rosário is confident that DSSOPT’s image will be changed with a new director. “Within this year, I hope we all can see some changes,” he said.
Currently, less than 1% of public engineering projects recorded “excessive overtime” and less than 3% recorded “excessive overcost”. He believes that the government’s performance was “not bad” in terms of handling public engineering projects.
Light Rapid Transit
The government has plans for the public tenders for both the LRT Barra section and Seac Pai Van (SPV) section to be held this year. The SPV line will stop at the islands’ medical complex. Another section has been planned to connect Pac On to the Border Gate (Eastern Line), with this line also crossing through Zone A.
Last year, the SPV line was ready for its design to go to public tender. The Eastern line is still undergoing a feasibility study, but the government will try to prepare a consultation draft for this section within the first half of this year. At SPV, the government has designated space for commercial operations.
Zone A will have a depot serving SPV, Barra and Hengqin. Rosário could not provide an answer regarding the timetable for the Eastern line’s planning or construction. However, he is sure that its construction will start within this government term. For this line, the government may consider using extra LRT cars, which will be put in Zone A’s depot.
The Eastern line will be approximately 8 kilometers long and, at Cotai, it will connect to Hengqin. On the Macau side, it will connect to the Border Gate. It will also pass Pac On, cross the sea to Zone A, have another 3-4 stops, and finally connect to Areia Preta all the way to the Border Gate.
Rosário wants the lawmakers and the public not to exaggerate the LRT’s incidents.
“Sometimes, I believe our requirements are too high and we are too strict,” said Rosário. “The LRT is a new thing and it is not perfect. Approximately 80% of LRT workers are Macau local residents. Some problems were caused by the machines, some were caused by people who are Macau people. Don’t turn small problems into big ones.”
The Secretary thinks that making a fuss out of small problems “is unnecessary.”
He said that these Macau local residents were hired in March 2018 and have been receiving training since then. “They are Macau local residents. Why are we this strict? I hope that we all, regardless of the scale of the incidents, don’t turn them all into big incidents. I am trying to have mostly Macau residents doing this work,” said Rosário.
The Transport Bureau is still waiting for detailed reports on the LRT incidents.
Security authority will proceed with facial recognition functions[Facial recognition technology] is absolutely in accordance with the law. We have not considered suspending it. It can improve the police authority’s efficiency in cracking down crimes,” answered Mui San Meng, assistant commissioner-general of the Unitary Police Service (SPU), when questioned if the security services were reconsidering facial recognition in response to concerns aired by members of the public.
“Nobody knows you were recorded unless a crime took place at that moment,” said SPU representatives during yesterday’s Legislative Assembly plenary meeting.
Mui argued that CCTV surveillance cameras were set up in accordance with the law and that all cameras were labeled with notices informing the public about the existence of the cameras and other relevant functions.
Lawmaker Lam Lon Wai proposed that the local government build strong facial recognition features for Macau’s CCTV surveillance systems with the purpose of smart development, sharing the data from these systems with multiple departments.
The security authority’s response endorsed Lam’s proposal, although it claimed that statistics stemming from the technology should not be needlessly shared with other public or private parties, as was suggested.
Mui said that the Transport Bureau, the civil protection center, and the Fire Services Bureau will all use these functions to monitor road conditions.
Zheng Anting, Cheung Lap Kwan, Leong Sun Iok and Mak Soi Kun endorsed the plan, arguing that such technology provides protection for the public. The security authority’s representative once again claimed that the function does not violate people’s privacy. JZ