Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo Arrais do Rosario said Monday the government couldn’t say for sure when the delayed light rail transit (LRT) project will finally be completed, adding that there were serious problems with the construction of the LRT depot in Cotai near the airport.
Rosario made the remarks after a meeting between the members of the legislature’s Follow-Up Committee for Land and Public Concession Affairs and government officials, including Andre Sales Ritchie, deputy director of the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT).
The policy secretary recalled that the planned LRT route in the peninsula has changed so that the government would need to reclaim land off Nape for the construction. He added that the findings of a public consultation about the route in Areia Preta will be available sometime this year.
In the wake of strong opposition by residents in Nape and Areai Preta to the original route planning, the government said it was ready to change the plan.
Rosario, who took up his post in December, acknowledged that it was hard to determine when the LRT project will be completed and how much its overall budget will be.
The government has said that it has so far spent some 14.2 billion patacas on the project which originally had a price tag of just 4.2 billion patacas.
Rosario admitted that the construction progress of the depot has been slow and marred by repeated delays. “We are now in negotiation with the company [i.e. the contractor in charge of building the depot], hoping that we can reach a consensus on how to solve the problem,” said Rosario.
“I want to let everyone know that this is a serious problem because if it persists, the rails may be completed but the LRT can’t begin operating because the depot has not been built.”
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at a press conference after the meeting with Rosario and the other government officials, Ho Ion Sang, who heads the committee, said the committee was told during the meeting that the government had asked the depot’s contractor to draft a new blueprint for the building, but according to government officials, the contractor’s attitude has been far from enthusiastic.
Referring to what government officials said during the meeting, Ho added that the LRT trains were originally scheduled to be shipped from Japan to Macau this year, but because of the delays affecting the depot’s construction, it was likely that the shipment will have to be delayed as there is no place in Macau to store them.
Ho also said the construction of the depot had already been delayed for two years and the contractor was slapped with a 12 million pataca fine in September last year. “The government is in discussion with the contractor and does not rule out the possibility that the issue may be settled in court to protect public interests,” Ho said.
The lawmaker also said that government officials would look into the feasibility of hiring a new contractor for the depot.(macaunews/macaupost)