The saga of the construction of the Express Rail Link (XRL) has again been a hot-topic in society recently as the government would like to submit a further funding request to the Legislative Council. Due to the unsolvable challenge concerning co-location check-point at a short period of time, the government should stop immediately it construction until a consensus of the arrangement on the check-point(s) is reached without violating the Basic Law.
The government has already submitted a further funding request for the construction of XRL to the LegCo and is experiencing an uphill battle in the Council because of the interrogation by the Councilors about the arrangement on co-location checkpoint. Amid the concerns on potential violation of the Basic Law on the arrangement since its construction, the government and the LegCo members supporting the construction has yet proposed a proper solution to ease this standoff. Since the XRL could not attain its function if there is no satisfactory arrangement on custom check-point, merely approving the funding request without solving the core question could not accelerate the progress on its building and would only lead the project to a dead-end situation.
So far, there are different solution proposed by different parties in the city to resolve the dead-lock, including transforming the building site into an underground shopping mall and implementing separate checkpoint in Shenzhen temporarily until an appropriate arrangement is given. From a point of views as a taxpayer, the government should have already studied this question before the submission of funding request to the LegCo in 2010. At this moment, due to the previous lesson in 2010, the government should then withdraw the submission of the funding request immediately and study the arrangement of co-location check-point in a serious and comprehensive manner. If, finally, co-location check-point without violating the Basic Law is impossible, the government should then study different options of utilizing the construction sites in Western Kowloon.
Since the approval of the budget in 2010, the government has already spent more than $80 billion and it is estimated that the construction could exceed $100 billion or even higher. Apart from the issue of co-location check-point, whether the trains used in XRL could comply with the official standard in Hong Kong would be another hidden issue before full operation. Therefore, being a taxpayer, I strongly urge the government to stop the construction work immediately, withdraw the funding request to the LegCo and resolve all potential problems related to the operation of the XRL lest taxpayers would suffer by footing the bill endlessly.