Energizing Kowloon East

We continue to keep up our efforts to facilitate the transformation of Kowloon East into another core business district to support Hong Kong’s economic development. At present, Kowloon East has about 2.6 million square metres of commercial/office floor area, with potential to further supply approximately 4.4 million square metres in future (including 1.8 million in Kai Tak Development and 0.56 million from the Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong Action Areas). The Energizing Kowloon East initiative has been extended to the San Po Kong Business Area, particularly focusing on enhancing connectivity, improving the environment, and promoting vibrancy and diversified development. We are also reviewing the future use of the Ngau Tau Kok Divisional Police Station site.

We continue to implement the concept of walkability in Kowloon East to improve the pedestrian environment. These include finalising the detailed design for an additional footbridge near MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit B to enhance connectivity with the future East Kowloon Cultural Centre and nearby residential areas, studying the design for the extension of the pedestrian subway network connecting to MTR Ngau Tau Kok Station, planning a new footbridge near MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit A, and commencing the detailed design of another footbridge across Wai Yip Street near Siu Yip Street.

We will commence the works on improvement of Hoi Bun Road Park and adjacent area in 2018, and also take forward other public open space improvement projects in Kowloon East.

We continue to use Kowloon East as a pilot area for exploring smart city development and share the knowledge and experiences gained in carrying out smart city-related proof-of-concept trials, such as kerbside loading/unloading bay monitoring system, illegal parking monitoring system, multi-purpose lampposts and smart recycling bin system, with relevant government departments and stakeholders to facilitate wider application.

Harbourfront Development

Providing connected and accessible promenades on both sides of the Victoria Harbour continues to top the agenda of the Harbourfront Commission. On the Island side, we will commence construction of two promenades with different themes around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai North next year. Their completion in 2021 will enable the three-kilometre waterfront running all the way from Sheung Wan to Wan Chai Ferry Pier to be fully connected. We are also refining the alignment of the proposed boardwalk underneath the Island Eastern Corridor and will commence detailed design once the proposal is endorsed. In addition, the public open space at the harbourfront of Shing Sai Road of Kennedy Town will be completed and opened for public enjoyment progressively starting from the first quarter of 2019. The open space will complement the community garden and ancillary facilities to be run by a non-governmental organisation at the hinterland side of the site.

As regards the other side of the harbour, the enhancement project along the harbourfront of Hoi On Road in Tsuen Wan will commence in 2019, while the proposal for Hoi Sham Park extension in To Kwa Wan will also be submitted to the Legislative Council for funding approval next year. The Energizing Kowloon East Office is currently inviting proposals from non-profit-making organisations to operate a temporary flea market during weekends and festive holidays at the former airport runway tip at Kai Tak. On the other hand, we will invite interested parties to submit expressions of interest later this year on the conceptual design and operation model of the proposed Urban Park in front of Hung Hom Ferry Pier.

Revitalising Nullahs and River Channels

In 2018, we have completed the assessment on the revitalisation potential of major rivers and nullahs in Hong Kong, and four selected rivers and nullahs with high revitalisation potential were identified, which include Tai Wai Nullah, Fo Tan Nullah, midstream of Tuen Mun River and Jordan Valley Nullah. We are actively studying the feasibility of various revitalisation schemes for these rivers and nullahs, with a view to enhancing the ecological value, biodiversity, greening and beautification of rivers and nullahs. Through the revitalisation, we can promote water-friendly culture and activities, so that the public can appreciate the multiple benefits of water bodies, cherish them and work together to create a better living environment for Hong Kong.

Urban Forestry

We will strengthen our tree management and inspection regime by introducing enhanced tree risk assessment (TRA) requirements in 2019, such as increasing the experience requirement of inspection officers, tightening the supervision mechanism to ensure the quality of TRA inspections, more timely auditing of TRAs, and detailed inspections of trees in walled pots and planters. We will study more favourable growing conditions such as piloting increased tree pit volume, enriching species diversity and better matching tree species to landscape type.

We are working closely with the Qualifications Framework Secretariat of the Education Bureau to assist the horticulture and arboriculture industry in establishing the “Specification of Competency Standards” (SCS) and setting up the qualifications framework. The SCS, expected to be completed by 2019, will help standardise and uplift the overall level of expertise in the industry. We will study the introduction of a registration system for tree management personnel.

Implementation of Construction 2.0

The demand for housing, land supply, medical services and infrastructure development is keen and huge. The forecast total construction volumes in the next 10 years will be around $2,500 billion to $3,500 billion. Meanwhile, the construction industry has been facing the challenges of high construction cost, shortage in skilled labour and declining productivity. To overcome the challenges and cope with the growing demand, it is time for the construction industry to make changes. We will lead the construction industry to implement “Construction 2.0” with “Innovation”, “Professionalisation” and “Revitalisation” directives, to uplift the capacity and sustainability of the industry, enhance productivity and quality assurance, improve site safety and reduce environmental impacts. To power the three directives with greater synergy, we will particularly encourage innovative minds and strive to nurture the younger generation, offering them more opportunities to develop their strengths. The Government will pilot “Construction 2.0” in public projects to promote the industry enhancement.

  1. Construction Innovation and Technology Fund

    To upgrade the construction industry through innovation and technology adoption, we have launched the $1 billion Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (“CITF”) in October 2018. The fund will encourage wider adoption of new but proven technologies among the industry with a view to promoting productivity, uplifting build quality, improving site safety and enhancing environmental performance. Moreover, the fund will support industry practitioners and tertiary students to join various empowerment programmes on latest construction technologies to nurture an open-minded culture and build up the capacity of the industry to harness technology for continuous improvement.

  2. Off-site Construction

    Off-site construction has been well recognised in other advanced economies that it will not only uplift productivity of the industry and cost-effectiveness of projects but also achieve enhanced site supervision in order to improve quality of works and site safety. Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) and prefabrication of reinforcing steel bars are typical examples of off-site construction. They apply the concept of “Design for Manufacturing and Assembling” in the way that most of the site operations are designed for manufacturing process in off-site prefabrication yards. We will promote and lead the adoption of MiC by implementing pilot projects to demonstrate to the industry the feasibility of this innovative construction method in tall buildings in local environment.

    We are actively promoting the use of prefabricated steel reinforcing bar (rebar) products supplied by large-scale and highly automated prefabricated yards, with a view to improving built quality, productivity and construction safety. A pilot scheme was rolled out in August 2018 to mandate the use of a certain percentage of prefabricated rebar products supplied by approved yards in selected public works projects. This could help practitioners to gain knowledge in the operation of the approved yards and to appreciate the benefits of using prefabricated rebar products. To further enhance the quality assurance of the approved yards, an Independent Audit Team was engaged by Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) in September 2018 to monitor and audit the production process of prefabricated rebar products, which include material testing, cut and bend operations and delivery arrangements. In parallel, we have worked with Housing Department to identify improvement measures to streamline the administrative procedures in sample selection and testing, which could help to enhance the operational efficiency of the steel prefabrication yards. These improvement measures were implemented in September 2018.

  3. onstruction Innovation and Technology Application Centre

    The Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC) of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) was opened in November 2017 and has been well received by the stakeholders of the construction industry. The CITAC has already identified a number of innovation items for site trial and will propose matured innovation items for inclusion into the pre-approved list of CITF with a view to promoting their adoption by small and medium enterprises.

  4. Building Information Modelling Technology

    Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology allows construction professionals to carry out design and construction works in a virtual environment, which helps avoid changes in the construction process as far as possible, reduce risks and render clarity to project costs in various stages including the operation and facility management stages. In addition to adopting BIM technology in the design and construction of major government capital works projects scheduled to start in 2018, we will also collaborate with the CIC to strengthen BIM training for relevant professionals, develop related technical standards and guidelines, and encourage the use of this technology in private construction projects.

Strengthening Cost Management for Public Works Projects

Since its establishment in June 2016, the Project Cost Management Office (PCMO) has been effectively implementing cost management for public works projects and managed to achieve a cost saving of $27 billion after scrutinising 130 projects with estimated cost of $260 billion. PCMO has also instigated measures which are conducive to the successful delivery of public works projects in a timely and cost effectiveness manner.

Nevertheless, there are still growing needs for enhanced cost management for public works as depicted below:

  1. high construction cost by international standard - international reports have ranked Hong Kong as the 3rd highest construction cost city in 2017;
  2. sustained keen demand on construction services - The Government needs to sustain capital works investment to improve people’s living environment, promote economic growth and enhance competitiveness of Hong Kong; and
  3. rising public aspirations for better cost-effectiveness - there have been more and more demand from the public on better managing cost of public works projects. Significant cost overruns and programme delay of some high profile projects have also affected public perceptions.

Therefore, we will upgrade PCMO and expand its establishment and functions to implement strategic initiatives, enhance cost surveillance and project governance capabilities for strengthening the cost management of public works projects.

Uplifting Performance of Public Works Projects

The PCMO will explore overseas experience for establishing and managing the Centre of Excellence for Major Project Leaders to provide high-level project leadership training to equip government officers with innovative minds and world-class leadership skills in the delivery of public works projects. In addition, we will conduct consultancy studies and set up innovative and intelligent monitoring systems to measure and analyse project performance with a view to improving project delivery as well as facilitating international collaboration and benchmarking.

Construction Manpower Development

Infrastructure development is maintaining its momentum and will continue at a high level. In collaboration with the CIC, we have embarked on a host of multi-pronged measures to maintain a construction workforce of sufficient strength and quality to meet the industry’s manpower demand in future.

With the approval of the Legislative Council Finance Committee, we have allocated a total of $420 million since 2010 for the CIC to strengthen the training of local construction personnel and step up promotion to attract new blood. From January 2009 to August 2018, the CIC has trained more than 34 000 semi-skilled and skilled workers. The total annual training output of CIC in 2009 and 2017 are 900 and 6 000 respectively, representing an increase of 670%. Based on the findings of the latest image tracking survey done by the CIC, young interviewees willing to join the industry has increased significantly from about 8% in 2011 to about 21% in 2018. During the same period, the number of registered general workers and skilled/semi-skilled workers has also increased by 48% and 123% respectively.

To encourage contractors and their subcontractors to enhance in-service skills training, we have introduced a technical score on worker training in the tender evaluation mechanism for public works contracts which has been implemented since October 2018. The CIC is enhancing its efforts in collaborative training through the new apprenticeship scheme with clear career pathway for the youngsters to achieve skilled workers and further advancement to technician and supervisors.

The CIC established the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) in February 2018 to train more high-calibre and professional construction practitioners. Apart from upgrading the current skill training programmes in pace with technological advancements, the HKIC also provides courses at Qualifications Framework (QF) Level 3. We are exploring the use of the existing Tai Po Training Ground for the development of a multi-storey campus for the new HKIC. Apart from workshops and teaching facilities, the new campus would also provide training in innovative technologies (e.g. BIM centre, MiC facilities and robotic centre) with a view to developing the HKIC into a regional centre of excellence in construction training.

Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme

Property owners should take primary responsibility for proper upkeeping of their lifts. At present, there are about 66 000 lifts in Hong Kong and they are in general safe for use if there are proper periodic examinations and maintenance. Owing to rapid technological advancement in recent years, modern lifts are equipped with more comprehensive safety devices than the aged ones. As the lifts get aged, works including replacement of parts or modernisation/replacement of lifts are required to be carried out in a timely manner. We recognise that some owners may face difficulties in carrying out such works due to problems of finance, technical knowledge, organisation ability, etc. thereby posing safety hazards to inhabitants and visitors of their building.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (“EMSD”) promulgated in 2011 “the Guidelines for Modernising Existing Lifts”, introducing measures to enhance the safety of aged lifts and recommending retrofitting of safety devices. As the lift modernisation works are not mandatory, different levels of modernisation works have been carried out only to about 5 600 aged lifts in the territory so far. The progress of implementation is not significant.

In view of this, the Government plans to launch a $2.5-billion “Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme” (“LIMSS”) over six years starting from 2019-20 to promote lift modernisation in the community through provision of financial incentive with appropriate professional support to building owners in need, thereby enhancing lift safety.

Modelling on the on-going “Operation Building Bright 2.0 Scheme” and “Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme”, the LIMSS will comprise the following five core elements:

  1. Care-based: The LIMSS will focus on private residential and composite buildings with relatively low average rateable values (“RV”), with a view to benefitting those building owners in need. The average RV of domestic units in a participating building should not exceed $162,000 per annum in urban areas (including Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan Districts) and $124,000 per annum in the New Territories (all New Territories districts excluding Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan districts). We will review and where necessary update these average RV ceilings from time to time in conjunction with the Urban Renewal Authority (“URA”) to tie in with changes in market values of properties;
  2. Safety-based: The LIMSS will focus on minimizing the safety risk of lifts. Priority will be accorded to lifts with Improvement Orders issued by the EMSD. In addition, for the lifts without Improvement Orders issued by the EMSD, we propose the LIMSS should also cover lift modernisation works already commenced but not yet completed, and to allow retrospective applications for such lift modernisation works meeting certain requirements, to prevent procrastination in the original plan by the property owners pending formal invitation of applications under the LIMSS;
  3. Resource-based: To ensure that public resources would be allocated to the most needy, we propose to subsidise up to 60% of the cost of the modernisation works, including complete replacement of the lifts if so opted by the owners, subject to a cap of $500,000 per lift; and for elderly owner-occupiers aged 60 or above, with subsidies for the full cost, subject to a cap of $50,000 per unit;
  4. Capacity-based: We target to modernise about 5 000 lifts within six years having regard to the capacity of the industry that can handle the additional lift modernisation under the LIMSS without inflating the market prices for such works; and
  5. Streamlined procedures: We propose to partner with the URA in launching the LIMSS. Through an electronic tendering system on the URA’s “Smart Tender” platform, it will ensure tendering of lift modernisation works be carried out in an open, transparent, convenient and orderly manner, thus reducing the risk of bid-rigging.

We will consult the Panel on Development of Legislative Council about the implementation arrangement along the direction of the above framework in October 2018, and plan to launch the LIMSS in the first quarter of the next year.

Heritage Conservation

Various heritage conservation initiatives are progressing on course. Nine projects under Batches I and II of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) have commenced operation, while the three projects under Batch III will start operating by the end of 2018. With funding approval of the Legislative Council Finance Committee, revitalisation works for the three projects under Batch IV will commence by the end of 2018. For the four historic buildings under Batch V, the selected revitalisation proposals were announced in July 2018 and preparatory work is now underway. Since the introduction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2000, a total of 18 heritage projects in Hong Kong have been recognised, of which five are under the Revitalisation Scheme. Viva Blue House (Batch II) received the Award of Excellence in 2017, making it the first built heritage conservation project in Hong Kong to receive this top honour. Separately, the Antiquities Advisory Board recommended the declaration of the exteriors of May Hall, Eliot Hall and Fung Ping Shan Building of The University of Hong Kong as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53) in recognition of their heritage significance. We are taking forward the proposed declaration. Furthermore, given the “Heritage Vogue • Hollywood Road” street carnival held last year was well-received with enthusiastic public participation, we will organise the event again on 4 November 2018.