We continue to keep up our efforts to facilitate transformation of Kowloon East into another core business district to support Hong Kong’s economic development. At present, Kowloon East has over 2.8 million square metres of commercial/office floor area, with potential to further supply approximately 4.2 million square metres in future. The planning and engineering studies on the Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong Action Areas have largely been completed. We are also reviewing the future use of the Ngau Tau Kok Divisional Police Station site and a site at Lai Yip Street.
We continue our work to improve the pedestrian environment in Kowloon East. These include commencing construction of an additional footbridge near MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit B subject to funding approval, commencing investigation and preliminary design for a new footbridge near MTR Exit A of the same station, carrying out design for extension of the pedestrian subway network connecting to MTR Ngau Tau Kok Station, and carrying out detailed design of another footbridge across Wai Yip Street near Siu Yip Street.
We will commence works on the “Revitalisation of Tsui Ping River” project as well as improvement of the Lam Wah Street Playground and its adjacent area subject to funding approval. We will also take forward the District Open Space, Sports Centre cum Public Vehicle Park project at Sze Mei Street with a view to enhancing provision of leisure and sports facilities, and providing about 300 parking spaces underground to meet public needs. We will provide distinctive play facilities at Kai Tak Runway Park to bring more vibrancy to the former airport runway tip.
We will continue to use Kowloon East as a pilot area for exploring smart city development and share the knowledge and experiences gained in carrying out the proof-of-concept trials with relevant government departments and stakeholders to facilitate wider application.
Providing connected and accessible promenades on both sides of the Victoria Harbour continues to top the agenda of our harbourfront enhancement efforts. In the past year, the Government has, with the support of the Harbourfront Commission (HC), extended the length of our connected promenade by about 10% to a total length of about 23 km. The newly completed/enhanced promenades have completed the jigsaw in the western part of the Hong Kong Island and fully connected the harbourfront from Shek Tong Tsui to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, providing the longest promenade (about 4.5 km) along the Harbour by far.
With the $6.5 billion dedicated funding, the Government has been working closely with the HC to press ahead the various harbourfront enhancement projects, with a view to extending the total length of our harbourfront promenade to about 34 km in a decade. Specifically, on the side of Hong Kong Island, we will commence the construction of West Landscaped Deck in Wan Chai for enhancing connectivity between the harbourfront and the inland area, and conduct detailed design of the proposed Boardwalk underneath the Island Eastern Corridor and the Open Space at Eastern Street North. As regards the other side of the Harbour, we will take forward the enhancement of the Hoi On Road harbourfront in Tsuen Wan and the Urban Park project in Hung Hom. We will also start engaging the relevant parties on the preferred design for the Metro Park in Kai Tak.
We will continue to look for opportunities to tap into the innovation and expertise of the professional industries, non-governmental organisations (NGO), local community and private sector alike on the planning, design, development and management of harbourfront areas. In this regard, we will organise design competition for developing the prominent harbourfront location in Wan Chai North, as well as explore the possibility of engaging outside parties for managing water sports and recreation facilities in Wan Chai North and the Boardwalk underneath the Island Eastern Corridor.
In 2018, we completed the revitalisation of Kai Tak River to provide the community a green river corridor with both flood prevention function and ecological value. We will further foster the concept of “Rivers in the City”. The aim is to allow the public to enjoy river facilities, experience the multiple values of water bodies, treasure water bodies and create a better living environment. We are vigorously formulating all kinds of revitalisation schemes for rivers and nullahs with high revitalisation potential. The rivers and nullahs concerned include the Jordan Valley Nullah, Tai Wai Nullah and Fo Tan Nullah. Besides, we will also introduce water bodies rejuvenation facilities, such as artificial flood attenuation lakes and river parks in planning for new development areas.
We have been taking forward a series of strategic and operational initiatives to bolster our urban forest and ameliorate tree risks. We will enhance the tree risk assessment requirements starting from the 2019 annual cycle, including tightening of the qualification and experience requirements of inspection officers, additional auditing and surprise site checking of tree risk assessment and mitigation works, and piloting smart technologies to complement our tree management work to enhance effectiveness and efficiency. We will also set up a dedicated and strengthened Inspection Squad to carry out site patrols, conduct systematic tree failure inspections and analyses, and organise public education and promotion activities at the district level.
Given that the professional standards of arboriculture and horticulture practitioners are essential in keeping our urban forest healthy and sustainable, we will take forward several new initiatives to support the growth and development of the industry. Taking into account the views of the arboriculture and horticulture industry, we have worked out the principles and administrative framework for introducing a registration scheme for tree management personnel including arborists and tree workers in 2020.
As announced in the 2019-20 Budget, we will set up a $200 million Urban Forestry Support Fund to implement a number of initiatives, including introduction of the Study Sponsorship Scheme and the Trainee Programme to enhance manpower supply in terms of both quantity and quality, hosting International Urban Forestry Conference and strengthening tree management promotion. We consulted this Panel on 28 May 2019, and Members supported the proposal. Our current plan is to include the funding commitment in the 2020 21 draft Estimates for LegCo's approval in the context of the Appropriation Bill 2020. In support of the manpower training initiatives, we will identify suitable venues to facilitate arboricultural field training for students and trainees.
The "Construction 2.0" advocated in the 2019 Policy Address has received wide support from the industry. In the past year, we strived to push ahead "Innovation", "Professionalisation" and "Revitalisation" through the establishment of a working group to oversee the "Construction 2.0" pilot projects, launching the "Registered Specialist Trade Contractor Scheme" and piloting digital works supervision system, etc. The forecast total construction volumes will remain at high level in the years to come. We will continue to lead the industry to reform and encourage innovative minds to overcome the various challenges being faced by the construction industry in Hong Kong. We will also attract more young people to join the construction industry, offer them more opportunities to develop their talents, and strive to nurture the energetic and competitive younger generation for the industry.
Hong Kong's capital works expenditures have reached about $80 billion annually since 2017. It is estimated that the annual expenditure will be over $100 billion in the coming years to meet various economic, transport, housing and social needs of Hong Kong. However, escalating construction cost, rapidly ageing workforce, and rising public's aspirations in recent years have posed great challenges to the delivery of capital works projects. Since the establishment of the Project Cost Management Office (PCMO) in 2016, we have strived to enhance the cost management of the public works projects, for example, by scrutinising more than 230 projects and managed to achieve a cost saving of $55.6 billion or 13% of the total original project estimate by proposing different improvement schemes based on "Fitness for Purpose" and "No Frill" principles. In April this year, we expanded the establishment and functions of PCMO and established the Project Strategy and Governance Office for implementing strategic initiatives and enhancing capabilities in cost surveillance and project governance.
In recent years, the public has rising aspirations on the performance of public works projects. We will adopt multi-pronged approach to strengthen the monitoring and management of works through the promotion of digitisation of the works supervision system and launching project management and leadership development programme to equip public officers with more innovative minds and contemporary leadership skills for better delivery of public works projects. Besides maintaining close liaisons with local industry stakeholders, we strengthen collaborations and exchange experience with our counterparts in the Mainland, Australia, Singapore and United Kingdom. In July 2019, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore government with an aim to promoting partnerships and enhancing project management and performance.
CIC established the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) in February 2019, providing courses at Qualifications Framework Level 3, to train more high-calibre and professional construction practitioners. CIC will, with the Government's support, develop a well-equipped campus for the HKIC at its existing Tai Po Training Ground. Apart from workshops and teaching facilities, the new campus would provide training on innovative technologies (e.g. BIM, MiC and robotics) to develop the HKIC into a centre of excellence in construction training.
To provide a clear career advancement pathway and to encourage more youngsters to join the construction industry, CIC has introduced a new two year apprenticeship programme known as the CIC Approved Technical Talents Training Programme (CICATP) since September 2019, providing systematic and holistic on the job training to equip graduates of the HKIC's full time certificate or diploma training programmes, who are Semi-skilled Workers, to become Skilled Workers. In the 2019-20 Budget, the Financial Secretary has set aside $200 million for enhancing the training of construction workers, a majority of which will be used to support the CICATP through extending its coverage from six trades to 13 trades1 . We consulted this Panel on 28 May 2019. With Members' unanimous support to the proposal, CIC has extended the CICATP to cover the additional trades requested by the Government since 1 September 2019. Our current plan is to include the funding commitment in the 2020 21 draft Estimates for LegCo's approval in the context of the Appropriation Bill 2020.
Notwithstanding that the water supplied by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) complies with the Hong Kong Drinking Water Standards, the quality of drinking water could be affected by the internal plumbing systems of buildings. Therefore, property owners have the primary responsibility for proper management and maintenance of these systems. We notice that in carrying out management and maintenance of their internal plumbing systems, some owners may face difficulties due to financial constraint, technical knowledge, organisation ability, etc. This may pose drinking water safety risks to inhabitants and visitors of these buildings.
The Government launched the Action Plan for Enhancing Drinking Water Safety in Hong Kong in September 2017. Among those initiatives under the Action Plan, WSD has followed the recommendations of the World Health Organisation in promoting development and implementation of Water Safety Plan for Buildings2 (WSP for Buildings) by building owners/property management agents to safeguard the quality of drinking water in their buildings. In this connection, the Hong Kong Housing Authority has committed to implement WSP for Buildings for all its 185 public rental housing estates 3 in four years, starting from the fourth quarter of 2019, covering about 730 000 households or 28% of the total number of households in Hong Kong. Regarding private residential buildings, since the implementation of WSP for Buildings is not mandatory, the participation rate is not satisfactory. As at the end-August 2019, only 1 000 private residential buildings, covering about 212 000 households or 8% of the total number of households in Hong Kong, have implemented WSP for Buildings.
In view of this, the Government plans to allocate about $ 440 million over five years starting from 2020-21 for launching the "Water Safety Plan Subsidy Scheme" (WSPSS) to promote the implementation of WSP for Buildings through provision of financial incentive with appropriate professional support to building owners in need. We will model on the on-going "Operation Building Bright 2.0" and "Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme" and by adopting the same cap on the average rateable values of domestic units in a participating building as the eligibility criterion so as to benefit those building owners in need. It is estimated that WSPSS will subsidise about 5 000 target buildings to take forward tasks required under the WSP for Buildings including formulation of WSP for Buildings, regular inspection and maintenance of the internal plumbing system, rectification works for the internal plumbing systems (if needed), internal audits, etc.
We plan to launch the WSPSS in the third quarter of 2020. We will work out further implementation details according to the above framework and consult this Panel in due course.
Various heritage conservation initiatives are progressing on course. Twelve projects under Batches I, II and III of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) have commenced operation. With funding approval of the Finance Committee, revitalisation works for the three projects under Batch IV commenced in 2019. For the four historic buildings under Batch V, the selected revitalisation proposals were announced in July 2019 and preparatory work is now underway. We will launch Batch VI comprising four historic buildings by end 2019. Since the introduction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2000, a total of 20 heritage projects in Hong Kong have been recognised, of which five are under the Revitalisation Scheme. Separately, on the advice of the Antiquities Advisory Board, declaration of the rock carving at Cape Collinson in Eastern District, Yuk Hui Temple at Wan Chai and Hau Mei Fung Ancestral Hall at Kam Tsin, Sheung Shui as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53) is in process.
1 The CICATP initially covered six trades, namely painter & decorator, joiner, carpenter (formwork), bricklayer, plasterer and tiler. Given that Skilled Workers in other trades (including bar bender & fixer, metal worker, general welder, plumber, leveler, electrical fitter and construction plant mechanic) will be in keen demand in the coming years, upon DEVB’s request, CIC has extended CICATP to these trades.
2 WSP for Buildings provides a systematic and effective management framework for the internal plumbing systems in buildings including conducting risk assessment, implementing corresponding control measures and undertaking regular checking, inspections and maintenance together with regular audits and reviews.
3 Hong Kong Housing Authority Paper No. HA 32/2018 dated 26 November 2018.