Hong Kong may have to pay more than expected for the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) after cost estimates have been adjusted upwards, Apple Daily reports.
Citing a report submitted by the HZMB Authority to the State Council, the Transport and Housing Bureau said contractors have requested for a budget increase of 10 billion yuan, or about HK$11.8 billion, for the main section of the project, including a 22.9-kilometer bridge.
The amount is more than one-fourth of the original cost estimate of HK$44.3 billion.
The factors that led to the upward adjustments include rising labor and material costs as well as changes in the design and construction plans of the bridge. The major construction works for the main bridge and the ports are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
While the part of the bridge that requires additional cost is mainly located in the waters that belong to mainland China, Hong Kong still has to share the burden based on the agreements signed by the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau governments in 2009.
The bureau estimates that Hong Kong has to pay more than HK$5 billion for the latest cost overrun, which means citizens have to pay HK$684 each.
Since the Legislative Council had appropriated HK$117.7 billion for the bridge over the past years, the additional costs will raise total funding to more than HK$120 billion.
According to the bureau, it will not ask Legco for additional funding until the actual amount it has to share is finalized.
Describing the project as a “financial black hole”, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, convenor of the Professional Commons, a local think tank, said the cost overruns clearly have gone out of control.
The bridge project is fast becoming an ATM machine for large Chinese state-owned companies involved in its construction because the Hong Kong government has no say in it, Lai said.
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