Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo Arrais do Rosario repeatedly apologised Thursday for the delays and budget woes afflicting the government’s light rail transit (LRT) system.
“Since it’s impossible to justify the unjustifiable, I can only offer my sincere apologies to the population,” the policy secretary told lawmakers.
Rosario made the formal apology during Thursday’s Q&A session about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for this year in the legislature’s hemicycle. The session will end today.
Rosario, who has been in his post since December, also said that the government had still not been able to reach an agreement with the contractors who are responsible for the construction of the LRT depot and the superstructures of the depot in Cotai on terminating their contract. The depot project has been severely delayed by a string of issues and quarrelling between the two contractors and the government.
Rosario said the government was greatly concerned about the delays affecting a raft of public infrastructure projects, namely the construction of the LRT depot, Pac On ferry terminal in Taipa, public housing construction in Toi San and the second phase of the Mong Ha public housing project.
The first phase of the LRT includes 21 stations – 11 in Taipa and Cotai and 10 on the peninsula. Construction on the peninsula has still to start.
“The first phase of the LRT section in Taipa is under construction…it’s a pity that the progress and budget of the project are not in line with what we expected,” he said, adding: “Regarding the LRT depot the government and the contractors have still not reached an agreement on terminating the contract.”
“For that, I apologise to the public. We are unable to say when the LRT will become operational and how much the budget will be,” Rosario admitted.
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 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 audit report slammed the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) for its failure to control the budget for the first phase of the project, which increased from its initial 4.2 billion patacas in 2007 to a whopping 14.3 billion patacas in 2012, an increase of 240 percent.
Responding to lawmakers’ questions about the troubled LRT project, Rosario apologised repeatedly for the situation and said that it was regretful that the government could not say when the LRT will start operating and how much the project will cost.
“I am also a Macau resident…first I have to make an apology. We still cannot say when the LRT will operate after so much money has been spent…and how much is still needed for the project,” the policy secretary said in Cantonese.
Rosario also said the government would continue to discuss the LRT depot debacle with the project’s contractors.
The policy secretary, who is an engineer by profession, said he would not waste time investigating the causes of the existing problems.
“We’ll do our best…to solve the problems. All I have to do is to solve the problems,” the policy secretary said.
Rosario Thursday also apologised for Wednesday’s mega-blackout which hit large parts of the city for up to one and half hours and affected 42 percent of the power utility’s clients, or 100,000 households, businesses and public entities. (macaunews/macaupost)