The Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou high-speed rail project could see its cost rise significantly to between HK$70 billion (US$9.03 billion) and HK$80 billion from the HK$68.4 billion budgeted by MTR Corp, Hong Kong Economic Times cited legislator Michael Tien as saying.
Tien, who heads a railways subcommittee at the Legislative Council, said in an interview that he believes the Hong Kong government is locked in an internal debate as to who should bear the extra cost.
The best way to settle the cost dispute is through legal arbitration, said the legislator, who had once served as the chief of Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp (KCRC).
MTR, which originally set the cost at HK$65 billion, said in May that the latest budget did not take into account loss incurred from work at Tsat Sing Kong tunnel that was immersed in water due to heavy rain.
The government had said earlier that MTR should be held liable for costs related to any delay of the project. Some people in the engineering field also said the rail operator should be held responsible for extra cost as it clearly mismanaged the project.
Tien said the amount will in fact come out of taxpayers’ pockets eventually, no matter if it is paid by MTR or the government. The Hong Kong government owns 70 percent stake in MTR.
A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said the bureau is asking MTR to submit supplementary information and details on the extra costs before it makes a decision on how to deal with the issue. Meanwhile, the Highways Department is doing the same as it has not agreed with MTR’s proposal to delay the project till 2017, the report said.
– Contact us at [email protected]