The paper was produced for a discussion yesterday on staffing proposals for a project management office within the Highways Department (HyD). It said that there is a need for the HyD to have dedicated staffing support at directorate level to continue to take forward the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) and the Tuen Mun Western Bypass (TMWB) and to complete the remaining works of the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge’s Hong Kong section. These remaining works are the Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR) and the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF).

The HyD has a total of 14 major contracts in respect of the TM-CLKL, HKLR and HKBCF projects with a value totalling about HK$70 billion. As of May 2017, the HyD had received claims in relation to the three projects of approximately US$358 million, US$333 million and US$435 million, respectively.

After receiving claims, the consulting engineers engaged by the HyD review the reasonableness of the claims and seek the department’s comments. The paper said that the HyD has to review the validity, principles and liabilities of all the claims with a view to safeguarding the interest of the government and ensuring the proper use of public funds.

Based on the current situation and its experience of previous mega-scale projects, it is anticipated that the process will take at least around one to two years after the completion of a project, said the paper. It cannot be ruled out that the government may have to partake in negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation. The paper is recommending three appointments, including that of a project manager/major works (special duties).