Light rail gallery ‘a waste of money’

Saturday, July 10, 2010
Issue 1059, Page 3
Word count: 564
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A number of lawmakers slammed the Government’s plan to build a three-storey light rail exhibition gallery, questioning the necessity and effectiveness of the project.

The Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) on May 31 closed the public tender application for the construction of the exhibition gallery inside the depot of the phase 1 light rail transit near the Macau airport. The GIT said it aimed to increase the public’s awareness in the green concept, energy saving, environmental and accessibility advantages of the mass transit.

Lawmaker Ung Choi Kun yesterday at the Legislative Assembly inquired the Government into the arguments and the construction costs of the project, pointing out that the main body of the light rail hasn’t even been built and the current light rail exhibition at the Science Centre is already giving the same promotional and educational values.

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io argued that the light rail transit is a “new thing” to Macau, but the lawmakers were not convinced.

The secretary insisted that the exhibition gallery will help local residents understand further how the light rail will affect their lives in a long-term. He also told the lawmakers that the Government found 30 percent of the residents interviewed in a survey were not aware of whether the light rail service would come to their neighbourhoods.

The budget for the construction, he added, would be around MOP60 million.

Lawmakers Lee Chon Cheng, Jose Coutinho, Tsui Wai Kwan and Kwan Tsui Hang believed that the exhibition gallery is “pointless”, calling the project is a waste of public funds.

Au Kam San said it will be more effective to stage exhibitions in different neighbourhoods, instead of building a brand new complex and asking people to go there to learn more about the light rail.

Kwan Tsui Hang agreed with Au and pointed out that there are many places already available for the Government to use, such as the exhibition centre or “whatever it is” near the Kun Iam Statue that no one knows about.

In response to the criticisms, the secretary said the most important thing is that the Government can “have a place to do long-term promotional work”, adding they are in talks with the Science Centre concerning whether or not the light rail exhibition can stay there for longer.

Affordable housing prices

On the other hand, Lau Si Io said by September 30 the Public Housing Affairs Advisory Committee will submit a preliminary report to the chief executive, outlining a string of short-, mid- and long-term measures to promote healthy development in Macau’s property market. A final report will need to be ready in the end of November.

Lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong inquired the Government into the construction costs of the HR/HS and TN27 affordable housing projects in Rua da Tranquilidade and Taipa, but the secretary said the costs are borne by the developers and thus no figures were available.

Ng Kuok Cheong called the Government “shameful” and left the plenary meeting before it finished.

In addition, Lau Si Io confirmed that 125 of the 880 units of the HR/HS affordable housing will be sold by the developer based on the housing development contract already gazetted in 2005.

He also disclosed the average prices of affordable housing since the establishment of the SAR, from MOP100,000 (no bedrooms) to MOP301,500 (four bedrooms), and among them a two-bedroom unit was for MOP223,000.

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