Transport and Public Works: Contractors to face higher fine for idle land

Thursday, April 1, 2010
Issue 978, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 1325
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

  • Contractors to face higher fine for idle land
  • Land Law revision going ‘on schedule’
  • Public housing waiting period to be out this year

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io pledged yesterday that the government is committed to recovering idle land and punishing developers for not honouring the contracts. He also said a long-term housing development strategic plan will be announced this year, which includes the introduction of a public housing waiting period.

Land management and public housing were the two most popular topics during yesterday’s policy debate for the public works and transport areas at the Legislative Assembly.

Today will be the last day of all the policy debates that began on March 18 after Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On presented his 2010 Policy Address.

Review and analysis on the Land Law and related laws and regulations were implemented in 2008. Lau Si Io said the public works departments are going to study the work report delivered to the government by the expert team early this year and will strive to put the bill into the legislative process by the end of 2010.

The Secretary stressed that the revision progress of the Land Law was not lagging behind and has been done based on the timetable introduced in 2008.

In order to make sure that land granted to developers are used within the specified period in the contracts, Lau Si Io told lawmakers the government will classify the cases based on their seriousness, and also particularly follow up those in which the land concession period is to expire shortly, land premiums are still being owed and the land has never been developed.

He revealed that the government has by far studied more than 100 idle land cases. Of them, letters were sent to around 20 contractors asking for explanations. If the delays cannot be justified, the land resumption procedures will be implemented in line with the Land Law, he said.

Expenses arisen from the land resumption will also be charged to the contractors or developers, he added.

Moreover, the Secretary announced that the SAR government has decided to increase the fine and link it with the land prices in new land concession contracts or renewing the existing ones in the future, in a bid to urge contractors to develop the land timely.

He also reiterated that the government was concerned about illegal land occupation in Macau. He said the government has successfully recalled five to six pieces of land to date totalling more than 10,000 square feet.

In regard to land grant procedures, Secretary Lau said the government will continue to “increase the public’s participation, reinforce transparency, make full use of the Land Advisory Committee, intensify supervision on contract fulfilment as well as strive to complete the land classification research work this year”.

Public housing

According to Lau Si Io, in addition to the supply amount, land and human resources and financial capability are also involved in solving the housing problem.

He said that a long-term planning is necessary in order to effectively solve local people’s housing demands.

Since 2009 the SAR government has been working on a 10-year housing development strategic plan which will take a “macro perspective” to jointly look at public and private housing.

The Public Housing Affairs Advisory Committee, to be set up in April, will first discuss the strategic plan including the public housing waiting list. The Secretary said it is hoped that a specific waiting period can be formulated this year.

Public housing projects to be completed this year include the Alameda da Tranquilidade HR/HS economic housing, Ilha Verde social housing and the first phase of the Mong Ha social housing.

The first government-funded economic housing project, on the TN27 land slot in Estrada Coronel Nicolau de Mesquita in Taipa, is expected to be completed in 2011.

The Sai Pai Van public housing construction plan is looking to be started in 2010.

Lau Si Io said that no later than September qualifications of the around 7,800 new social housing applicants registered at the end of last year will all be examined.

The government also has plans to increase the rental subsidy amount for people on the social housing waiting list as well as lower the application requirements later this year.

On the other hand, the government will encourage private developers to build smaller flats in the future when land concession is being renewed or applications to change the land use are received.

“Through street alignment, community planning and land management, we will guide private developers to build small size units and also request them to increase the proportion of these units in the project,” Lau Si Io explained.

Of which, he said the plan to revitalise the industrial buildings in Avenida de Venceslau de Morais and the north of Taipa will be the “starting point”.

In response to the growing number of aging buildings in Macau, Lau Si Io said the government will keep reinforcing building management and maintenance work. It will also consider increasing inspections on buildings of more than 30 years old.

The safety of pedestrians and drivers is always “one of the top concerns” of the government, he added.

Public transport

The Secretary said sets of short-, mid- and long-term transport policy suggestions and a work plan will be formulated at the end of 2010.

In order to encourage the use of public transport, the government plans to enhance taxi service quality, develop “intelligent transportation” and also install a real-time bus location information system.

Traffic around Macau’s tourist attractions will also be looked at, particularly targetting at arrangements surrounding world heritage sites as well as increasing and optimizing parking facilities at attractions and immigration borders.

As for the light rail project, Lau Si Io said the government will strive to finish the international tender for the procurement of transit materials and systems within this year.

Opportunities will also be created for local enterprises and workers to participate in the construction of the light rail transit.

In the field of aviation, the Secretary said following the end of the sub-concession contracts of the Macau International Airport, the SAR government will introduce more service providers and draft 10 to 20-year development strategies for the airport.

The recent Viva Macau incident, Lau Si Io said, will serve as a “lesson” for Macau’s long-term aviation development and the government will also carry out an evaluation on it.

As for maritime transportation, he said operators will be encouraged to launch more routes and explore different sources of passengers.

Since the construction of the University of Macau’s Hengqin campus has already been started late last year, Lau Si Io revealed that the seabed tunnel connecting Coloane and the campus is expected to be completed in 2012.

For the long-term development of Taipa and Coloane, the government is studying the feasibility to build a traffic tunnel next to the Ka-Ho Reservoir linking Barragem de Ká Hó and Estrada De Nossa Senhora, and also another tunnel to go through the Taipa Grande Hill.

In addition, the fourth cross sea bridge connecting Macau and Taipa will undergo an in-depth research this year in order to “ease the existing traffic pressure on the three bridges”, Lau Si Io said.

Illegal construction

In response to illegal construction works in Macau, the Secretary said the public works departments are looking at multiple measures from the administrative, technical and practical levels to effectively tackle the problem.

Of which, a special cross-departmental group will be set up and electricity and water supply may be cut in those unlawfully constructed units, he added.

The draft to revise the technical chapter of the “General Rules for Urban Construction” is going to be finished this year and then be introduced for public consultation. The Secretary also said that the “Fire Safety Regulations” is expected to enter the legislative process this year.

On the other hand, Lau Si Io told lawmakers it is hoped that the related laws and administrative regulations concerning the professional qualification system for architects, civil engineers, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers can be done before the end of 2010.

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