Skip to content Skip to navigation

Overall Macao Light Rail Transit could cost at least US$ 6.25 billion: auditor

Fri, 14th Sep 2018

In a hard-hitting report published Thursday, the Commission of Audit (CA) says that the estimated construction cost for the eight sections of Macao’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that the government has planned for the short, medium and long terms amounts to at least 50 billion patacas (US$ 6.25 billion)

The report also says that the Transport Infrastructure Office (GIT), which oversees the city’s LRT project, is to blame for the long delays in the construction of the LRT Taipa section. The office was set up in 2007 as a “project team” for the planning of Macao’s LRT project and the coordination of its construction.

The estimated construction cost of over 50 billion patacas still does not include the other three planned LRT sections – that the Transport Infrastructure Office could not provide estimated construction costs for or any information which could allow the commission to make an estimate.

The government has repeatedly reaffirmed that the LRT Taipa section is scheduled to be operational next year. The Taipa section, which includes Cotai, is 9.3 kilometres long and will have 11 stations.

The LRT was first proposed by the government in the early 2000s. However, the main construction-that is, of the Taipa section – only started in 2012.

The report says that the government first expected in 2007 the first phase of the LRT project -consisting of the Taipa section and a section along the east coast of the peninsula – to come into service in late 2011, adding that an enormous delay occurred so that only the Taipa section is now expected to be operational in 2019.

In the first LRT plan announced by the government in 2007, the budget for the first phase of the LRT project was 4.2 billion patacas, according to the audit report. In the construction plan for the LRT first phase announced in 2009, the budget rose to 7.5 billion patacas. In the 2009 plan, the government expected the LRT first phase to come into service in 2014.

The construction of the LRT first phase was initially slated to get off the ground in 2010. However, the construction was only started in 2012 due to appeals by some construction companies which had submitted bids for its construction.

In 2011, the government expected the LRT first phase to come into operation in 2015 and revised up its budget to 11 billion patacas, the report says. In 2012, the government’s budget for the LRT first phase rose to 14.3 billion patacas.

In 2014, the government said that it expected the Taipa section – not including the section along the peninsula’s east coast – of the LRT first phase to come into operation first in 2016, according to the report.

Then in late 2015, the government expected the Taipa section to come into operation in 2019, the report says. However, the government does not have a schedule as to when the construction of the section along the peninsula’s east coast would get off the ground.

According to the report, the Transport Infrastructure Office drafted in December 2016 a new overall Macao LRT plan consisting of 11 sections – five sections for the short term, three sections for the medium term and three sections for the long term.

According to the report, the five sections for the short term are: 1) the Taipa section (slated to be operational in 2019); 2) the section connecting Taipa to Barra via Sai Van Bridge (expected to be operational in 2024); 3) a sea-crossing LRT section connecting the peninsula’s Barrier Gate border checkpoint to the Taipa Ferry Terminal, via the land reclamation area known as Zone A (also known as the “East” section which was expected to be operational in 2026); 4) a section connecting the peninsula to the man-made island for the Macao and Zhuhai landing points of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge via Zone A (expected to be operational in 2026); 5) the section connecting the Taipa section to Coloane’s Seac Pai Van (expected to be operational in 2022).

According to the report, the three sections for the medium term are: 1) the peninsula’s Inner Harbour section (connecting Barra to the Barrie Gate border checkpoint along the west coast of the peninsula); 2) the southern sub-segment of the peninsula’s east coast section; 3) the northern sub-segment of the peninsula’s east coast section. However, the Transport Infrastructure Office told the Commission of Audit that the government does not have a schedule for their construction.

The report said, the three sections for the long term are: 1) a section connecting the Lotus Flower Bridge border checkpoint in Cotai to Hengqin Island of Zhuhai; 2) a section connecting Taipa’s Ocean Gardens to the land reclamation area known as Zone E off Pac On via the planned land reclamation areas known as Zone C and Zone D off the northern coast of Taipa; 3) a section connecting Seac Pai Van to Coloane Village. Also, the Transport Infrastructure Office told the commission that the government does not have a schedule for their construction.

According to the report, the commission has requested the Transport Infrastructure Office to provide estimated construction costs for the 11 LRT sections.

The Transport Infrastructure Office told the commission that the latest budgeted construction costs for the Taipa section was 10.8 billion patacas.

The audit report lists estimated construction costs for seven other sections, based on the information provided by the Transport Infrastructure Office. The estimated construction costs for the five sections for the short term were: 1.5 billion patacas for the Taipa-Barra section, 21 billion patacas for “East” section, 1.78 billion patacas for the “man-made” section, 2.47 billion patacas for the Seac Pai Van section, according to the report.

There was no estimated construction cost for the peninsula’s Inner Harbour section, the report says.

The estimated construction costs for two sections for the medium term were: 1.75 billion patacas to two billion patacas for the northern sub-segment of the peninsula’s east coast section, 3.27 billion patacas to 4.2 billion patacas for the southern sub-segment of the peninsula’s east coast section, according to the report.

There were no estimated construction costs for the Ocean Gar-dens-Zone E section or for the Coloane Village section, the report says.

The estimated construction cost for the Hengqin section for the long term was 7.45 billion patacas, the report says.
The estimated construction cost for the eight sections (including the Taipa section) combined is 50.05 billion patacas to 51.23 billion patacas. The combined estimation still does not include the peninsula’s Inner Harbour section, the Ocean Gardens-Zone E section and the Coloane Village section.

Some civic leaders and lawmakers have called for the government to cancel its plan to construct any sections on the peninsula.

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On has repeatedly said that the government has not given up its plan to build the LRT system on the peninsula.

The report can be downloaded from the commission’s website http://www.ca.gov.mo/, in Chinese and Portuguese language versions.

(Macau News)