LARGE areas of restored landfills are being left idle due to bureaucratic bungling, the Legislative Council’s Public Accounts Committee (立法會帳目委員會) revealed in a report published earlier in November.
Addressing lawmakers, Chairman of the Committee Abraham Shek Lai-him (石禮謙) said there is an urgent need for the government to better utilise former landfills.
He said many of these sites, which can be used for recreational purposes, have been left idle for years.
“There are project delays and cost overruns as a result of ineffective coordination between the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (康樂及文化事務署), Home Affairs Department (民政事務總署) , Architectural Services Department (建築署) and Environmental Protection Department (環境保護署),” he said.
Citing an example, he said even though restoration work at Kwai Chung Park (葵涌公園) concluded in 2000, only 8.4 of the 25 hectares of the former landfill had been used for other purposes, namely a BMX bike park and a temporary cricket ground in 2008 and 2016, respectively.
The report issued by the committee expressed deep regret for the delays and lack of effective cross-sectoral coordination in the reconstruction of landfill facilities.
Shek said the quality of tenders is problematic as they are insufficient and lead to additional work. The committee had made the problems known on several occasions, but nothing had been done to rectify it. The report stated that the Leisure and Cultural Services and Home Affairs departments are responsible for coordinating the development of Kwai Chung Park, Wan Po Road Pet Garden (環保大道寵物公園) and Jordan Valley Park (佐敦谷公園).
However, it said the two departments had not worked together with the Architectural Services and Environmental Protection departments in trying to resolve technical constraints and obstacles, which resulted in project delays and cost overruns.
The committee suggested the relevant departments take appropriate action, such as establishing working groups and using external consultants.
Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong (梁繼昌), vice chairman of the committee, said the government’s inefficient use of Kwai Chung Park proves that coordination between departments needs to improve.
“The problem is that one department may make one suggestion while another says it’s not feasible,” Leung said. “We recommend there should be a cross-departmental task force to coordinate the effort.”
The committee also expressed concern about the Sha Tin Section of Route Eight (沙田八號幹線), as it feels the Highways Department (路政署) unnecessarily spent more than HK$200 million.
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 23 November 2018)