The Government has been taking forward various types of public works projects in an orderly manner, meanwhile enhancing the quality and performance of projects through continuous improvement on project management. Since 2009, the Development Bureau (DEVB) has been adopting the “New Engineering Contract” (NEC) form in public works projects for more efficient contract management. The Bureau and its works departments have even won a number of international NEC awards this year, which is quite an encouraging achievement. This time, I have invited some colleagues to explain the advantages of adopting the NEC form, and share with us details of one of the award-winning projects.
DEVB being awarded the Client of the Year
The NEC awards aim to give recognition to projects and organisations around the world that have adopted NEC form and showcased excellence in project delivery. At the awards presentation ceremony held earlier, the DEVB won the Client of the Year award; the Drainage Services Department (DSD) got the Water Project of the Year and Contract Innovation awards; and the Civil Engineering and Development Department received the Transport Project of the Year award. Other works departments were also presented with commendations under different award categories.
Promoting contractual collaboration
Mr HO Ying-kit, Tony, Principal Assistant Secretary (Works) of the DEVB, says that compared with conventional engineering contracts, the NEC form promotes contractual collaboration, emphasising joint management and sharing of risks among contracting parties under the contract mechanism. Measures such as setting up an early warning system, and lowering risks through early discussion and co-ordination have been introduced to help project teams to effectively tackle challenges encountered in the projects, boosting efficiency of project management and cost effectiveness. He remarks that the awards received by the Bureau and the departments this time indicate international recognition of their efforts to promote contractual partnership in public works projects.
DSD winning the Water Project of the Year award
The DEVB piloted the NEC form in public works projects in 2009, and has expanded its application since 2015. As of today, more than 300 public works contracts under NEC form have been awarded, amounting to over $160 billion in total. An example is the DSD’s project “Shek Wu Hui Effluent Polishing Plant – Main Works Stage 1”, which won the Water Project of the Year award. Mr CHUNG Ching-hong, Romeo, Senior Engineer/Sewerage Projects of the DSD who is in charge of the project, says that it consists of four independent civil engineering as well as electrical and mechanical engineering contracts, all adopting the NEC form. Close co-ordination of project procedures and timelines among contracts are vital for timely delivery of the project.
Forming a cross-contract co-ordination team
Mr Romeo CHUNG points out that the works project is full of challenges. For example, works have to be conducted while the sewage treatment works is in operation, with plenty of underground pipelines at the site. The sudden and unexpected epidemic has also brought unstable factors to the delivery of materials and the productivity of workers. With the adoption of the NEC form, through its collaboration model and mechanism, the department, consultants and four contractors have formed a cross-contract co-ordination team on the basis of mutual trust and co-operation, so as to fully utilise their respective strengths to manage risks together, tackling problems one by one to avoid progress delays arising out of disputes.
Building a collaboration platform with technology
Moreover, the project team has built a collaboration platform using innovative technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Blockchain. Project information, in a more transparent and difficult-to-alter-at-will manner, can be shared simultaneously with various professionals participating in the project. On the same digital platform, participants can communicate, co-operate, adjust construction procedures and solve problems together, upholding further the fundamental spirit of mutual trust and co-operation advocated by the NEC form.
Shek Wu Hui Effluent Polishing Plant – Main Works Stage 1
Regarding the Shek Wu Hui Effluent Polishing Plant, Mr Romeo CHUNG says that the Shek Wu Hui Sewage Treatment Works (SWHSTW) of around 9.4 hectares is a secondary sewage treatment plant that handles the sewage generated in Fanling, Sheung Shui and neighbouring areas. To deal with the rapidly increasing volume of sewage generated in Kwu Tung North/ Fanling North New Development Areas and by the population growth in the district, the DSD started to reconstruct the existing SWHSTW in situ in 2019 so as to ultimately increase the treatment capacity to 190 000 m3 per day, and to upgrade the sewage treatment level to tertiary standard for conversion into the “Shek Wu Hui Effluent Polishing Plant” (SWHEPP).
The biggest tertiary sewage treatment plant in Hong Kong
Given that sewage treatment service has to be maintained during the course of works, the expansion has to be conducted in phases. Currently in progress is main works stage 1, which is expected to be completed in around 2024, and the entire project is expected to be completed in 2034. After expansion, the SWHEPP will occupy about 11.9 hectares, making it the biggest tertiary sewage treatment plant in Hong Kong. Besides, the treated water will be processed into “reclaimed water” for flushing toilets and other non-drinking uses in the northeastern New Territories.
Two hectares of space for public enjoyment
Apart from taking the opportunity in connection with the expansion to incorporate quite a number of green elements into the effluent polishing plant, the DSD will release about two hectares of public space for the construction of an aviary, a gardening area, an ecological garden and a riverside walkway, which will be open for public enjoyment in stages. Also, most of the sewage treatment facilities will be sealed and equipped with deodorising devices.
I am very pleased to see that, with the adoption of the NEC form in public works projects, the spirit of collaborative partnership has been fully embraced to properly handle the difficulties and risks encountered in the works process. Also, the outstanding results achieved in the NEC awards this year have boosted our confidence in the wider use of the NEC form. Going forward, we will continue to work hard with various stakeholders to innovate and optimise contract management process, so that we can deliver livelihood projects more efficiently, and build together a more livable Hong Kong that is also a good place to work in.
1 August, 2021Back