The cost of the proposed tunnel between Tseung Kwan O and Lam Tin has soared 80 percent to HK$15.09 billion, from last year’s estimate of HK$8.2 billion, while its completion has been pushed back to 2021, 12 months behind the original schedule, the government told the Legislative Council.
Legislator Regina Ip of the New People’s Party warned the public works sub-committee might not be able to approve the funding for the project before the end of the legislative year this summer, given its backlog of funding applications, Ming Pao Daily reports.
Ip suggested that the government might bypass the sub-committee and seek direct funding approval from the finance committee.
Undersecretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu said the government will study the possibility of adopting such a scheme.
The transport committee on Wednesday approved the project, which is intended to ease traffic congestions in Tseung Kwan O and Kwun Tong.
However, several lawmakers questioned why the project cost surged in just a year’s time.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai from the Neo Democrats blamed the government for the delay, saying it sat on the project for nearly 20 years despite local organizations pushing for it.
Albert Cheng Ting-ning, of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (New Territories East), said the tender process for the project, along with the traffic interchange in Lam Tin, has already started with the validity of the contracts running until the end of this year.
Even if Legco fails to approve the funding before summer, Cheng said, the government could seek funding from the finance committee in October, when the new legislative year begins.
Cheng said if the funding request is approved before the summer holiday, construction work could start in July.
The project is a dual two-lane highway about 4.2 kilometers long connecting Tseung Kwan O and East Kowloon, with the proposed tunnel section measuring 2.2 km in length.
– Contact us at [email protected]