HKSAR Government has been continuously investing in capital works to enhance living environment and maintain Hong Kong's long-term competitiveness. In 2019-20 LegCo session, funding approval of more than $170 billion works related items, including $144 billion new works projects, was obtained from the Finance Committee. Of the 86 major public works projects, works contracts for 58 projects have been awarded, and contracts for the other 28 projects are in the process of tendering as at mid-November this year. With a view to speeding up infrastructure development, we will adopt parallel tendering and shorten tender evaluation to expedite tendering process of works project, where appropriate. In addition, we will collaborate with works departments to explore the possibility of fast tracking the project schedule for early delivery of land supply, transportation, hospital and social infrastructure projects.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak early this year, our economy has been affected. To support economic development, create job opportunities and instil public confidence, the Government will keep on investing in infrastructure development and implement various new projects. These projects will cover land and housing supply, healthcare facilities, education, culture and recreation, water supply, drainage and sewerage aspects etc., including the TCNTE, New Acute Hospital at Kai Tak, special school with boarding facilities, pier improvement programme, Tin Shui Wai New Public Market, and other projects that are closely related to people's livelihood.
We also propose increasing the cost ceiling for minor works projects funded under the block vote from the current $30 million to $50 million, with an aim of expediting the implementation of more district-based livelihood projects, such as renovation works of schools and leisure facilities, as well as minor works to improve environmental hygiene and on roads, drainage and water supply, which to create more job opportunities.
The annual capital works expenditures have been maintained at a level of $70 billion since 2017. We expect the annual capital works expenditure will continue to grow from 2021-22 onwards and exceed $100 billion in coming years. Under the principle of "stimulate the economy, safeguard jobs", we believe that the increasing investment in capital works can effectively support the economy, accelerate social revival, and create significant number of job opportunities, so as to benefit different sectors of the society.
Since the announcement of the Energizing Kowloon East initiative in 2011, the supply of commercial floor space in Kowloon East has increased by 70% to about 2.9 million square metres at present. The supply has potential to reach about 7 million square metres in the future. The planning and engineering studies on the Kowloon Bay Action Area (KBAA) and Kwun Tong Action Area (KTAA) have basically been completed with a view to releasing land for commercial development by consolidating existing government facilities. Demolition of the former Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre in KBAA commenced in January this year, and the engineering investigation and design for the infrastructural facilities in KTAA commenced in March this year. These two action areas can provide about 560 000 square metres of commercial floor space.
The Government is actively promoting walkability in Kowloon East. We have formulated an overall pedestrian environment improvement framework for the Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong Business Areas, with measures including addition and upgrading of pedestrian facilities, integration with open space and other works projects to enhance connectivity and greenery, and beautification of streetscape. The short-term improvement measures have largely been implemented. Whereas, the medium to long-term improvement schemes, which include several footbridges and subway facilities, have also been gradually implemented. In addition, we also propose a set of elevated landscaped travelators at Wai Yip Street to improve the linkage between the KBAA and KTAA.
The Energizing Kowloon East initiative was extended to San Po Kong in October 2017. We will adopt the principle of "single site, multiple use" to provide underground public car park under the redevelopment plan of the public open space site at Sze Mei Street. Tender requirements for detailed design and construction of the project are being formulated. We will further adopt the same principle to commence studying the overall planning and long-term development of the Choi Hung Road Playground and Sports Centre (including Choi Hung Road Market which will be closed in 2022) site this year.
We will continue our work to improve the environment in Kowloon East. Works on the Tsui Ping River project as well as Lam Wah Street Playground and its adjacent area commenced in July this year. The improvement works at Hoi Bun Road Park and its adjacent area are expected to complete next year.
We will also continue to use Kowloon East as a pilot area for 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.
As regards the proposed environmentally friendly linkage system (EFLS) for Kowloon East, the Government has substantially completed its detailed feasibility study (the Study). The Study reveals that technically, provisioning of a single elevated system in Kowloon East is severely constrained by the adjacent congested developments, very costly and not financially viable, thus not a sustainable and pursuable option for EFLS. The Study suggests that it would be more effective and recommendable to shape Kai Tak Development (KTD) Area into a green community and enhance its connectivity with neighbouring areas through implementing a "multi-modal" EFLS. The multi-modal EFLS includes deployment of electric buses/mini-buses to run new routes in the area, a travelators network, a GreenWay network for shared use of pedestrian and cycling, enhanced connections to MTR Kwun Tong Station and a water-taxi service point in KTD. We plan to announce the results of the Study in the end of this year, and gather the views of public on the proposed multi-modal EFLS scheme.
In the past, owing to road and transport infrastructure constraints, there was not a clearer development positioning for the Southern District on Hong Kong Island. With the commissioning of the MTR South Island Line (East) in 2016, the connectivity of Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau with other districts has been enhanced. The beautiful natural landscapes, pleasant scenery from both land and sea, the presence of well-known scenic spots such as Ocean Park, four country parks, a number of beaches and a marine reserve, as well as rich historical and cultural resources, all contribute to the great potential of the Southern District.
Accordingly, the Government will introduce the Invigorating Island South project to develop the Southern District into a spot full of vibrancy, vigour and velocity, making it the right place for people to work, live, explore new ideas and have fun. The relevant bureaux and departments will study and take forward the following key projects under the Invigorating Island South initiative:
We will set up a multi-disciplinary professional team under DEVB to form the Invigorating Island South Office, which will interact and collaborate with relevant bureaux and departments and other stakeholders, to co-ordinate and implement the various projects under the Invigorating Island South initiative.
We have been actively connecting the promenade on both sides of the Victoria Harbour and creating more spectacular harbourfront environment for public enjoyment. In the past three years, 5 kilometres of harbourfront promenade has been opened for public use. Looking ahead, our target is to further extend the promenade from the existing 23 kilometres to 34 kilometres by 2028, providing quality open spaces amounting to about 35 hectares.
To realise the aforementioned vision, the Government has earmarked a total of $6.5 billion of dedicated funding for implementing 13 harbourfront enhancement projects. Amongst them, we will seek funding approvals of the LegCo on the Boardwalk underneath the Island Eastern Corridor and the harbourfront park at Eastern Street North in Sai Ying Pun in 2021, before commencement of the works right after. The latter project will feature creative elements including large-scale play facility, a sizeable water-fun area and an all-weather observation deck overlooking the sea. Both projects are targeted for phased completion starting from 2024. We will also incorporate cycle track designs in these harbourfront projects so as to enable cycling along the harbourfront areas in the longer-term.
Besides, the Harbour Office under DEVB will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Harbourfront Commission to promote active community engagement, including curating artworks in collaboration with local creative talent and display winning entries of the public furniture competitions, as well as inviting professional input to turn the design concepts for the two harbourfront projects at Golden Bauhinia Square and Wan Chai Ferry Pier respectively into concrete proposals. Under the administration of NGOs, the open community garden at Belcher Bay promenade in Sai Wan has commenced operation in October 2020, while the community living room at Quarry Bay harbourfront will be open in late-2021, with a view to further enhancing the vibrancy and diversity of the harbourfront.
We will also continue to improve the existing pedestrian linkage systems in various districts such as Admiralty and Wan Chai North, including enhancing the system in the vicinity of Admiralty through the redevelopment of the Hutchison House and Queensway Plaza, a government project to connect the Admiralty Centre with the Tamar Footbridge, as well as the pedestrian connection linking up Pacific Place with the footbridge network at the Harcourt Garden under the "Facilitation Scheme for Provision of Pedestrian Links by the Private Sector".
We have been actively taking forward the concept of "Rivers in the City". Revitalisation works at Tsui Ping River and Jordan Valley Nullah have commenced. We will continue formulating revitalisation schemes for other rivers and nullahs with high revitalisation potential, including Tai Wai Nullah, Fo Tan Nullah and Yuen Long Town Centre Nullah. Besides, we will introduce water bodies rejuvenation facilities, such as artificial flood attenuation lakes and river parks in planning for new development areas.
We hosted the inaugural International Urban Forestry Conference in January this year, set up the Arboriculture and Horticulture Industry Development Advisory Committee in June this year, and submitted a report on the progress of the registration scheme for tree management personnel to the LegCo Panel on Development in July this year. The Study Sponsorship Scheme and the Trainee Programme under the Urban Forestry Support Fund were rolled out in the third quarter of this year. The Study Sponsorship Scheme would benefit around 300 students per cohort while we are also receiving applications from eligible employers under the Trainee Programme to engage and train arboriculture and tree management graduates to become quality arborists and tree climbers.
The "Construction 2.0" advocated in the 2018 Policy Address has received wide support from the industry. DEVB has been implementing the "Construction 2.0" progressively and leading the industry to make change by advocating "Innovation", "Professionalisation" and "Revitalisation". We actively promote the application of innovation and technology, including Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), digital works supervision systems (DWSS), Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the establishment of Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) to uplift productivity, strengthen works supervision and quality assurance, and improve site safety.
We set up the $1 billion CITF in October 2018 to encourage wider adoption of innovative technologies and provision of cutting-edge solutions in the industry. So far, the Fund has approved more than 1 400 applications from over 700 enterprises with a total commitment of more than $300 million covering applications of MiC, BIM and other advanced construction technologies, and about 8 000 training places for practitioners for attending technology-related training. We will further study ways to encourage innovation and wider adoption of technologies in the construction industry and provide the related support.
We have been actively promoting wider adoption of MiC in construction industry upon the announcement of the MiC policy in 2017 Policy Address. In addition to encouraging private and public organisations to adopt MiC, DEVB issued technical circular in March this year setting out the policy and requirements on the adoption of MiC for designated government buildings such as schools, dormitories and office buildings. The first batch of MiC pilot projects, including InnoCell at Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Disciplined Services Quarters for the Fire Services Department at Pak Shing Kok in Tseung Kwan O, were topped out in May and August this year respectively. And the first MiC transitional housing project at Nam Cheong Street was completed for intake in August this year.
In addition, MiC has played an instrumental role in providing a large number of quarantine facilities and a temporary hospital in a timely manner for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak. The speedy completion of the quarantine centre at the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village amid the epidemic with the use of the MiC method has been acclaimed by the Institution of Civil Engineers of the United Kingdom.
We have been pushing forward the application of digital technology to enhance surveillance and management of public works projects. We issued a technical circular in March this year requiring new capital works contracts with pre-tender estimate exceeding $300 million to adopt DWSS to strengthen project supervision. Moreover, we will implement the integrated capital works platform (iCWP) in phases from next year onwards to enable data integration and analysis of works information collected from different works projects for continuous monitoring and review of various project performance with a view to enhancing the management of the Capital Works Programme. To facilitate project delivery under the new normal post-COVID-19, we will further explore the use of remote monitoring, wireless sensors networks, internet of things and other innovative technologies to push forward digitisation of works supervision system, reduce interpersonal contact and improve occupational safety and health on site.
We will continue to promote the adoption of other innovative technologies in the construction industry including the BIM technology, the prefabricated steel reinforcing bar products and other new and proven technologies examined by the Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre and the CITF to boost construction productivity, uplift built quality, improve site safety and enhance environmental performance.
The implementation of public works projects has all along been facing challenges of high construction costs, rapidly aging workforce, and rising public aspirations for project performance. Riding on the experience of the Project Cost Management Office (PCMO) in project cost management, the PCMO was upgraded to the Project Strategy and Governance Office (PSGO) in April last year to implement measures to optimise the performance of infrastructure projects in multiple aspects.
In the aspect of cost management and control, in the past four years, the offices scrutinised more than 280 public works projects of a total estimated cost of $520 billion and managed to achieve a cost saving of about $70 billion through optimising the project design based on the "Fitness for Purpose" and "No Frill" principles. PSGO also expanded the scope of cost control to cover project initiation and construction stages for continuous surveillance until project completion.
In recent years, the public has rising aspirations on the performance of public works projects. We will strengthen the monitoring and management of works through nurturing project management and leadership talents by the Centre of Excellence for Major Project Leaders and promoting application of digital technology. Besides maintaining close liaisons with local industry stakeholders, we strengthen collaborations and exchange experience with our counterparts in the Mainland, Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom with an aim to promoting partnerships and enhancing project management and performance. To further promote the digitalisation and innovation of the construction industry as well as enhance project performance, we will host an International Construction Leaders Summit next year to collect views of and formulate strategies with various stakeholders.
The CIC established the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) in February 2018, striving to provide clearer career advancement pathways, more systematic and structured programmes for the training of semi-skilled and skilled workers to meet anticipated market demand and raise the skill level of the construction industry. About 70 000 participants on average complete its programmes every year, covering both full-time and part-time training courses. Its Diploma in Construction Programmes have been recognised under the Qualifications Framework by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications. The HKIC also aims to make full use of its existing training facilities to enhance training to meet the needs of the industry, especially in the adoption of technologies including BIM, MiC, etc.
With the approval of the Finance Committee in May this year, we have allocated $200 million to implement measures to strengthen construction manpower training in trades of keen demand. These measures include (a) increasing the training allowance for trainees of the HKIC's one-year full-time programmes from $3,600 to $4,800 per month to attract more youngsters to undertake structured construction training; (b) increasing the number of trades1 of keen demand under the CIC Approved Technical Talents Training Programme (CICATP) by 7 from 6 to 13; and (c) offering incentives amounting to $10,000 per trainee in total to encourage in-service general workers to upgrade their skills to semi-skilled workers. So far, about 670 trainees have benefitted from these measures.
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 last year and are targeted for completion in the first half of next year. The investigation and design works for the four projects under Batch V are now underway. For the four historic buildings under Batch VI launched in December last year, assessment of the applications is being carried out. An additional historic building was included under Batch VI this August, and the deadline of application is this December. 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, the masonry bridge of Pok Fu Lam Reservoir, Tung Wah Coffin Home in Pok Fu Lam, and Tin Hau Temple and the adjoining buildings in Yau Ma Tei were declared monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53) in May this year.
1 The CICATP originally covers six trades, namely painter & decorator, joiner, carpenter (formwork), bricklayer, plasterer and tiler. As we envisaged that skilled workers 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, the CICATP has been extended to these trades.