Opportunities abound for Hong Kong construction sector

This undated file photo shows a rendering of the area of Qianhai economic zone in Shenzhen. - China Daily

HONG KONG (China Daily/Asia News Network): Hong Kong and Shenzhen's latest development plans - especially the special administrative region's ambitious goals for its northern area and Shenzhen's plan to expand its Qianhai cooperation zone - will generate a flood of job opportunities and energize the construction sector, industry experts said.

Aaron Bok Kwok-ming, vice-president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said the plans and continuous policy support will ensure opportunities for both construction professionals and workers over the next decade.

In its Oct 6 Policy Address, the Hong Kong government proposed building a "Northern Metropolis "in the city's Yuen Long and North districts covering a total land area of about 300sq km. The entire project is expected to take 20 years to complete.

The new metropolis accounts for more than one quarter of Hong Kong's land area and is expected to accommodate a third of the city's current population. It will involve a multitude of new infrastructure projects, such as transportation links, as well as residential and commercial buildings.

The building of the new metropolis will create huge opportunities for engineers, architects and surveyors and construction-related professionals in areas such as technical, management and environmental monitoring, Bok said.

He also said the HKSAR government has maintained relatively high investment in construction projects in recent years.

When delivering the Policy Address, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will continue to use infrastructure investment as a key measure to stimulate the pandemic-hit economy. Hong Kong's annual capital works expenditure is expected to exceed HK$100 billion (US$12.86 billion) in the coming years, she said.

In this legislative session, funding for capital works projects approved by the Finance Committee reached a record HK$220 billion, Lam said.

Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong at the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, highlighted the significance of the expansion of Qianhai cooperation zone.

According to a plan released by the central government on Sept 6, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone's area will increase significantly from 14.92sq km to 120.56sq km.

The plan also proposes to promote the zone's high-level opening-up and acceleration of the building of a modern service system compatible with Hong Kong and international standards.

Hong Kong construction professionals are allowed to provide services in Hong Kong-invested projects in Qianhai, after obtaining equivalent qualifications.

Hung believes the expansion plan will provide a new round of development opportunities for the Hong Kong construction sector, given its competitiveness in project management and the international nature of the project.

To better leverage Hong Kong's advantages, he hopes more mainland-invested construction projects in Qianhai will be opened to Hong Kong professionals.

Hong Kong lawmaker Lo Waikwok, who represents the engineering sector, said both the Northern Metropolis and Qianhai plans have received a positive response from Hong Kong's engineering and construction industry.

Lo, who is also former chairman of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said he hopes more communication mechanisms will be set up between Hong Kong and other Pearl River Delta cities for construction business partnerships.

Patrick Choi Cheong-wa, a Hong Kong interior designer who founded an architectural design company in Foshan, Guangdong province, said more Hong Kong architects and designers are participating in projects in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Many residential buildings and commercial complexes they have worked on have become city landmarks, Choi said. Mainland markets are increasingly recognizing Hong Kong's architectural design quality, he said.

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