A public toilet project in Sheung Shui has seen its budgeted construction cost jump almost 55 percent in the space of two years, prompting questions from local residents.
People living in Sheung Shui were shocked to learn that a toilet being built inside a local playground would cost taxpayers more than HK$9.6 million, Apple Daily reported.
Similar facilities nearby had cost just about half the amount, locals were quoted as saying after being informed of the budget revision for a project within the playground on Lung Sum Avenue.
Construction work on a toilet and a changing room at the playground is expected to begin this month, with completion scheduled for September.
According to the data submitted to the Northern District Council by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in 2014, the initial budget was only HK$6.24 million.
But the figure rose to HK$8.64 million in 2015. And by the time the tender was awarded, the cost ballooned further to HK$9.62 million, representing a jump of 54.2 percent from the original budget.
Of the HK$9.62 million, HK$7.8 million was set aside for construction, up 56 percent from the original estimate, while consultation fees rose by 45 percent to HK$1.67 million.
In addition, HK$150,000 was set aside for replantation work.
A similar toilet at the Luen Wo Hui Playground in Fanling, which was put up by the LCSD in 2014, only cost HK$4.97 million for construction.
The per-square-meter construction cost of the toilet at Luen Wo Hui Playground was just HK$60,000, while that of the Lung Sum Avenue facility in Sheung Shui is HK$90,000.
Some Sheung Shui residents said there was no real need for an additional toilet and changing room at the playground, as there are already such facilities at a football pitch nearby.
But others argued that new facilities will make life more convenient for them.
A woman surnamed Tse, who has been living in Sheung Shui for 20 years, said she thought it would cost only about HK$200,000 to build a public toilet.
The figure of almost HK$10 million has come as a shock and surprise to her, said Tse.
That said, she agreed that the toilet will be convenient for elderly people as many senior citizens come to the ground for morning walk and exercise.
District councilor George Pang Chun-sing, who is also a registered civil and structural engineer, said the project cost is higher as there no existing sewage system in the park.
The toilet’s design is nothing fancy, he said, adding that the facility just aims to serve the needs of local residents.
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