The development planning of Macau established in the Urban Master Plan and urban renewal projects is completely unconnected to planning for the Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, the Chief Executive (CE) Ho Iat Seng admitted yesterday in the Legislative Assembly (AL).
In a session dedicated solely to a Q&A with lawmakers about the Policy Address for 2022 delivered Tuesday, the CE acknowledged that, although both projects concern the development of Macau, they are not linked because the local government has no legal authority over the cooperation zone. Development in the zone is entirely governed by plans determined by central government authorities, namely the 14th five-year plan for the development of Guangdong province.
“Hengqin is not part of [the Urban Master Plan] as it is not a responsibility of Macau to plan the development of this zone,” Ho said, explaining the jurisdictional issue.
Questioned on the topic by lawmaker Chui Sai Peng, the CE added that the government has decided to move forward with Macau’s Master Plan in 2022, after much consultation and deliberation.
Ho also added that, to achieve this, the plan will be formally approved by the end of this year.
“We will approve [The Master Plan] at the end of this year. We need to move forward with it as we cannot waste more time,” the CE said. He added that, based on this plan, the government will next year put the development of undeveloped government land plots up for public tender.
The CE also noted that the new five-year plan for the development of Macau must also be completed by the end of this year, because many other policies, including some related to urban renewal, use of land and transportation infrastructure, depend on it.
During Tuesday’s press conference following the policy address, the CE admitted the government’s intention to auction some of the undeveloped land plots owned by the government, and said that these will be tendered to the private sector for development.
“This is not only to increase income for the government, but also to maintain the necessary balance between the public and private sector,” Ho said.
Also mentioned on Tuesday and confirmed yesterday in reply to lawmaker Ip Sio Kai was the need to push forward with urban renewal projects, starting in the northern part of the city and specifically in the neighborhoods of Tamagnini Barbosa and Iao Hon.
Ho mentioned poor living conditions and the shabbiness of some buildings in the old districts. These, combined with unhygienic conditions, warranted the transfer of some residents from their houses to quarantine venues during the recent Covid-19 outbreaks.
Inner Harbour Floodgate
The CE was also questioned about the status of flood prevention works for the Inner Harbour area and specifically about the floodgate to be installed in that area to prevent or reduce the severity of major disasters caused by severe weather conditions. Ho explained that this work is not a priority at the moment, and that the floodgate’s potential effectiveness requires further evaluation.
“We have done tests and we are confident that will have good results. Still, this is a project that carries a lot of costs — not just of construction, but also of maintenance. The maintenance costs are very high because it is a submerged facility. And hundreds of millions are expected to be spent just on the concept and design work,” he said, hinting that the expense may be unrealistic in the current economic crisis.
Although preparatory works are proceeding, the priority at the moment is for the installation of box culverts. An evaluation process continues to assess whether a floodgate will be as effective as some hope.