The refurbishing of the Grand Prix Museum remains a big question mark for both the general public and local lawmakers, who have been calling on the government to clarify when it will finally be ready and how much it will cost.
Despite the many questions, the government has not been able to provide clear information, adding to fears that this will become another public project subjected to budget slippage and constant delays.
The topic was once more addressed this week when, during the last session of the Legislative Assembly, lawmaker Zheng Anting expressed concerns over the project.
According to Zheng, the project was presented by the government back in 2016 and had its public tender launched at the beginning of 2017. At the time, the government had “an estimated budget of MOP380 million, dedicated to renovation and reorganization of the internal sewage network […], works that should be completed by 2018,” Zheng noted.
Although the space has been closed for almost 18 months since July 1, 2017, Zheng lamented that “the project is still in the design phase and the public tender [for the construction] was not opened yet, not to mention that no projection [had been] given on when it will be completed.” The lawmaker also noted that the latest budget for the works had been “increased to MOP830 million.”
According to the explanation from the government, the initial amount of MOP380 million only encompassed infrastructure works, whereas the revised budget of MOP830 million will also include the additional costs of purchasing all necessary equipment for the new museum to operate.
Nevertheless, the lawmaker noted that such additional costs are not exactly budgeted for, and that such an amount is merely a forecast created by the consulting firm responsible for the project, to improve the equipment of the museum as the contractor presented it.
Zheng’s words were presented in response to a spoken enquiry to the government aimed at obtaining clarification on a project hazy since its inception.
At the time, Zheng noted several other projects where the government has failed to keep both the budget and deadlines under control, starting with the Macau Dome, in Cotai, “whose initial budget was MOP640 million but cost about MOP1.3 billion, an over-spending of over 80 percent.”
Zheng added the examples of the new campus of the University of Macau at Hengqin Island, which saw its budget increase from MOP5.8 to 10.2 billion, and the Pac On Maritime Terminal which increased in cost more than sixfold from an initial budget of MOP580 million to 3.8 billion.
The many examples of other relevant public projects include the Light Rail Transit (LRT), which, in Zheng’s opinion, proved that the government has no control over public projects and, worse still, has not learned from previous failures and the many reports from both the Commission of Audit and the Commission Against Corruption. Such reports have also repeatedly pointed out that the public services “are generally not aware of the overall and estimated expenditure of the projects.”
According to information stated at the site of the under-construction museum, the works started on September 3 this year and are expected to be completed by October 14 next year.
As the Times observed on several occasions over the last almost 18 months of closure, there have been many disappointed visitors at the location of the former Grand Prix and Wine Museum who found the attraction closed.
On the topic, the Times questioned the building’s security staff on a previous occasion, who said that every day (and especially during the first six months) after the closure, a large number of tourists (mostly westerners) have tried to visit the museum, only to be informed by the security staff that it was closed.
One couple showed the Times that the museum was highlighted on tourist sites and a venues map as a place to visit in the region. The couple said that a tourism information staff member at the Outer Harbor Ferry Terminal offered them the map, but they could not precisely identify that staff member.
Information about the old museum is still being displayed on the Macau Government Tourism Office official website, together with information about transportation and bus routes to the venue, only with a note that states: “To cope with the remodeling project, the Grand Prix Museum is temporarily closed until further notice.”
Several travel guidebooks reviewed by the Times also continue to present the venue as one of the recommended places to visit in Macau.