Port-turned-home project feasible but full of hurdles

Top News | Sum Lok-kei Nov 17, 2017
Relocating the Kwai Chung Container Terminal or developing housing estates on top of it are technically possible but could take "a very long time," the government's Task Force on Land Supply has found.

Both options are set to be included in the public consultation scheduled to start in March, the task force said.

Speaking after a meeting yesterday, chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said the two possibilities are "longer than long term," as there is limited information to support either proposal.

Before going ahead with them, the government must spend a "long time" on preliminary studies, he said.

The suggestion to relocate the dock facility was made in April by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank founded by former chief executive Tung Chee- hwa.

The former president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Joseph Chow Ming-kuen, suggested building houses on top of the terminals in June.

But Wong said finding a suitable replacement for the whole facility, should it be moved, would be challenging, as its terminals occupy about 279 hectares of land, plus about 100 hectares of auxiliary facilities.

Wong said the site will also have to be harbor-facing and equipped with an efficient transport network, so such a site would likely have to be created via reclaimed land.

"Some said, if you have a new location, why not use it to satisfy the demand for land? Be it for housing or economic development," Wong said.

He added it will also be a big challenge to ensure the terminals remain functional during the relocation process.

As for the suggestion to build on top of the terminal facilities, which vary from 60 to 80 meters in height, Wong said current technology could make it happen.

But there will be environmental issues for potential residents, such as noise from the terminals, light pollution from spotlights, and air pollution from the traffic.

He also said there is insufficient information for estimating the cost of such a project, while another issue is property ownership, as the terminals are owned by five operators.

"Think about this, to relocate the terminals that is fifth in the world in terms of cargo tonnage - without affecting its daily operation - the time needed will be very long," he said.

The task force meets next on December 5. Its public consultation is set from mid-March to late July.

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