Govt aims for LRT Hengqin section project to start this year: Rosário

2020-05-07 03:32     Comment:0

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário said yesterday that the local government aims for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) section connecting Macau’s Cotai and Zhuhai’s Hengqin Island to get off the ground this year.

The policy secretary also said that as the LRT Cotai-Hengqin section is a cross-border project, it will be constructed by a mainland construction company.

Rosário also pledged that the government will invite bids this year for the construction of the LRT Seac Pai Van section, which will connect the still under-construction Cotai hospital complex – officially known as Cotai Healthcare Complex – and the sprawling Seac Pai Van public housing estate in Coloane. The policy secretary said that although the Seac Pai Van section will only have two stations, it will still be a large-scale project as it will be 1.6 kilometres long.

The government has said that the station outside the Cotai hospital complex of the Seac Pai Van section will have a footbridge connected to the Lotus Checkpoint station of the Taipa section for LRT passengers to walk between the two stations – to transfer between the Taipa section and the Seac Pai Van section.

Macau’s first LRT – the Taipa section – came into service on December 10 last year. The LRT Taipa section cost between 10.1 billion and 10.2 billion patacas.

The 9.3-kilometre-long Taipa section, which also covers Cotai, has 11 stations.

Rosário made the remarks about the two LRT projects during a one-day Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for this year.

In his introductory speech about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for this year, Rosário said that the government’s work in his portfolio has “inevitably” been affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic but stressed that all the entities under his portfolio have never stopped any of their tasks. “We continue to plan, adjust and implement our measures and projects as needed,” the policy secretary said.

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário (not wearing a facemask) addresses yesterday’s Q&A session about his portfolio’s 2020 policy guidelines in the Legislative Assembly’s (AL) hemicycle. Photo: GCS

Rosário pointed out that the government has extended the ongoing application period for subsidised home-ownership scheme (HOS) flats to the end of next month due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

The government launched a new round of applications at the end of November last year for 3,011 HOS flats to be built on three plots on the land reclamation area officially known as Zone A. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has extended the initially-four-month application period, which was originally slated to end on March 26, for three additional months to June 26.

Rosário pledged that in response to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the government will increase investment in public projects and streamline its process of approving private construction projects so as to stimulate employment and support the construction sector, with the aim of reviving Macau’s economy which has been severely affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Rosário said that his portfolio plans to increasingly involve residents in its decision-making process, adding that therefore “residents’ expectations and opinions will be taken into account, alongside technical and specialist knowledge, in order to achieve consensual and lasting solutions”.

Rosário reaffirmed that the government will launch public consultations this year on two projects “that are very important for Macau’s future”, namely the launch of Macau’s official urban master plan and the LRT “East” section project.

Rosário, who was re-appointed in December last year, said that since taking office as secretary for transport and public works in December 2014, he has regarded the formulation of the city’s urban planning “that Macau lacks” as one of his major tasks. The policy secretary said that although the government’s task to draft its urban master plan has still not been completed “due to various reasons”, the government “is now ready” to carry out a public consultation this year on the drafting of Macau’s urban master plan.

In reply to questions from lawmakers, Rosário revealed that the government will launch the two public consultations – Macau’s urban master plan and the LRT “East” section project – “together” in September or October.

The government has indicated that it plans to build the “East” section first before finally going ahead with the LRT peninsula section project. It launched a feasibility study of the LRT “East” section project in late 2018.

The government still does not have a final plan for the LRT project on the peninsula.

In a Q&A session in the legislature last month, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng told lawmakers that the government now plans that the LRT “East” section – a sea-crossing LRT section connecting the peninsula’s Barrier Gate border checkpoint to the Taipa Ferry Terminal and the adjacent airport via the Zone A and Zone E1 reclamation areas – would be constructed underground. Ho said that the government plans for the “East” section to start from the LRT station outside the Taipa Ferry Terminal, pass through Zone E1 and cross the sea through a tunnel, and built underground in Zone A and the land to be reclaimed off the northern coast of the peninsula, before arriving at the Barrier Gate checkpoint.

Ho also pledged during last month’s Q&A session that the government will get the LRT Seac Pai Van section and the Hengqin section off the ground “as soon as possible”. Ho said at that time that the 2.5-kilometre-long Cotai-Hengqin section will include an 894-metre-long sea-crossing tunnel. Ho said that the LRT Cotai-Hengqin section – connecting the Lotus Checkpoint station of the LRT Taipa section and the new mainland-Macau joint checkpoint on Hengqin Island – could be connected to the mainland’s high-speed railway network in the future.

Old bridge ‘not suitable’ for e-buses

Meanwhile, Rosário also told lawmakers yesterday that the old Macau-Taipa Bridge was unsuitable for electric buses because of their weight. “Electric buses are heavier than conventional ones and therefore cannot cross the old bridge,” Rosário said, pointing out that the old bridge has been set aside for public transport only.

Rosário promised that the government’s new contracts with the city’s two public bus operators – Transmac and TCM – will be signed before August 15, when the legislature’s summer recess starts.

Govt dumps dangerous materials project

Rosário also said the government had given up its predecessor’s controversial plan to build two provisional storage facilities for dangerous materials near the Seac Pai Van residential complex. He said the plan now was to build permanent facilities on an artificial island. However, Rosário declined to reveal the location of the facilities as the government still needed to tackle some issues concerning the project.

Housing for ‘sandwich class’

The policy secretary also said the government would hold a public consultation in August and September on the official definition of Macau’s so-called “sandwich class”. He said the point of the public consultation was to define who would be covered by the “sandwich class” definition for home-seekers other than those covered by the HOS programme. The government has said it plans to build flats for the “sandwich class”, i.e. middle-income home buyers.

5G problems

Rosário also said he expected the launch of Macau’s 5G network to encounter various problems. He pointed out that for the network to get off the ground, Macau needed some 4,500 base stations, many of which would have to be set up on buildings.

Macau’s main telecommunications company CTM said last year it expected its 5G network to start operating in the first half of 2020.
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