The Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) says in a statement released by a lawmaker on Tuesday that it has already started administrative procedures to fine the two contractors responsible for massive delays in the construction of the light rail transit (LRT) system’s depot and its superstructure in Cotai.
According to the statement, the penalty will amount to at least 10 million patacas.
The office revealed the figure in a formal reply to lawmaker Si Ka Lon’s interpellation about the delayed construction of the depot and whether the government planned to build public housing units on top of the depot. Si, a businessman and Fujianese community leader, released the office’s reply on Tuesday.
According to previous information from the office, which is in charge of the troubled LRT project, the depot and its superstructure cover about 130,000 square metres. The project is planned to include buildings for a control centre and repair, maintenance and cleaning facilities as well as parking spaces.
According to the Official Gazette (BO), Top Builders International Co. Ltd and Mei Cheong Construction Co. Ltd won a public tender for the building the depot and superstructure with a joint-venture bid of about 555 million patacas.
The office said in the statement that the joint venture had not been “actively” implementing the terms listed in its agreement with the government, resulting in “severe” construction delays.
The office also said that it had continuously been urging the joint venture to ensure that the project will be completed on schedule, adding that – in line with the law and the respective contractual terms – the government had started administrative procedures to penalise the joint venture, which would possibly lead to a minimum fine of 10 million patacas.
The office complained in the statement sent to Si that the joint venture had not made any improvements in getting the project completed on time. According to the statement, the delay is affecting the LRT project as a whole. The statement also said that the government had held discussions with the joint venture to find a solution to the predicament.
The office pointed out that the piling for the depot has already been completed, adding that if public housing units would be built on top of the depot, its original design and the project’s existing foundations needed to be changed which would result in further construction delays. The statement also said that if the construction of the depot was further delayed it would further affect the overall completion of the LRT system.
Early this year the Commission of Audit (CA) released a hard-hitting report on the LRT project. The report complained about constant budget overruns and massive construction delays affecting the government-funded project. The report also found that just the first phase of the LRT project, originally scheduled to start operating in September 2017, has been delayed by at least 883 days, or nearly two and a half years.
The first phase includes 21 stations – 11 in Taipa and Cotai and 10 on the peninsula. Construction on the peninsula has still to start.
The government admitted earlier this year that it doesn’t know when the first phase of the project will be completed and how much it will finally cost.
The audit report slammed the office for its failure to control the budget for the first phase of the project, which increased from the initial 4.2 billion patacas in 2007 to a whopping 14.3 billion patacas in 2012, an increase of 240 percent. (macaunews/macaupost)