Every government makes mistakes. When your mistake involves a large investment that is so difficult to maintain – or even complete – that it becomes unprofitable, you’ve got yourself a white elephant.
The Hong Kong government has plenty of white elephants to its credit. These unpopular and controversial infrastructure projects range from half-empty office complexes to underused cruise terminals. Some of the white elephants currently under construction are ridden with inefficiency, and every day they are delayed costs taxpayers money.
So if you’ve ever wondered where your tax money goes, here’s the answer.
1. Hong Kong-Shenzehn-Guangzhou Express Rail Link: HK$85 billion
Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway terminus in West Kowloon.
Construction for this rail link began in 2010 and was due to be completed this year; however technical issues have led to a two year delay with services expected to start in 2018. Initially estimated to cost HK$65 billion in 2010, the cost has already risen to HK$85 billion due to said delay. In a classic blame game, the CEO of MTR Corporation Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen said the government should be responsible for exceeding the budget.
2. Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge (HZMB): HK$83 billion
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Photo: Transport and Housing Bureau.
This massive tripartite development project between the governments of Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong province began construction in December 2009. The total cost of the whole project – including the offshore bridge, tunnel, link roads, boundary crossing facilities and two artificial islands – is HK$132.9 billion, which will be shared between the three governments. Hong Kong Government will contribute HK$83 billion. However according to reports, the cost of the bridge is expected to rise further due to delays in completion.
3. West Kowloon Cultural District: HK$23 billion
Aerial Map of proposed West Kowloon Cultural District. Photo: www.westkowloon.hk.
An “integrated basement” supporting a variety of arts and cultural facilities is being planned at the West Kowloon Cultural District. This open-air hub for local artists and performers was originally budgeted at HK$21.6 million – a cost that has already been exceeded.
4. Cyberport: HK$13 billion
Cyberport offices at Telegraph Bay. Photo: Wikicommons.
When it was announced in 1999, Cyberport was intended to be an ultra-modern complex for information services companies. In spite of being home to more than 600 companies including start-ups and entrepreneurs mainly hailing from the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, Cyberport has yet to reach 100 percent occupancy.
5. Kai Tak Cruise Terminal: HK$8 billion
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Built at the location of the former airport, the two-berth Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened in 2013 after an investment of HK$8 billion – much higher than the initial projected figure.
6. East Kowloon Cultural Centre: HK$4.1 billion
East Kowloon Cultural Centre – an artist’s impression. Photo: Architectural Services Department.
The cultural centre and performing arts venue is being created to promote the development of local arts and culture. With an estimated cost of HK$4.1 billion, construction is planned to commence this year and end by 2019-20.
7. Lok Ma Chau shopping mall: Hundreds of millions of HK$
IFC mall – one of Hong Kong’s major shopping complexes. Photo: Wikicommons.
This shopping centre, proposed to relieve the stress of parallel traders on border towns, was proposed in February this year. Originally intended to open during ‘Golden week’ in October, it will now open next year and operate for three years, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
8. TST Waterfront: HK$40 million
Tourists posing at the Avenue of Stars. Photo: Apple Daily.
Home to the tourist magnet Avenue of Stars and an expansive view of the Hong Kong skyline, the TST Waterfront was built in 2004 at the cost of HK$40 million by New World Development. Now, amid much criticism from the community, the area faces redevelopment over a period of three years as a controversial revitalisation project was approved in August.