The experience, comprehensive construction and technical know-how accumulated in Hong Kong is key to tapping into Belt and Road opportunities, according to Dominic Pang, Chairman of Asia Allied Infrastructure Holdings Limited (AAIH), whose company has recently secured a major water-supply infrastructure contract in the Philippines.
Having participated in a number of large-scale integrated construction projects in Hong Kong, including the Central-Wan Chai Bypass project, MTR Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Hong Kong Section) and Happy Valley Underground Stormwater Storage Scheme, AAIH accumulated extensive experience in the construction sector enabling it to expand business to the Belt and Road countries.
“The Philippines is a starting point to explore other Belt and Road-related construction opportunities around the region. Through this project, we hope to expand our business in the Philippines and find relevant partners. Technology transfer will help the local partners develop and list in Hong Kong, bringing project and investment returns to AAIH,” said Pang, who believed that construction projects, however they are tied to the Belt and Road Initiative, provides the Hong Kong construction industry with an opportunity to export its hard-earned reputation for managing and constructing world-class infrastructure projects. “As more Belt and Road projects are announced, we should be looking at ways to export our Hong Kong premium brand of construction and engineering capabilities and skills of handling complex projects to other regions,” said Pang.
With two independent thirdparty construction contractors, AAIH has entered into a contract with Manila Water Company, Inc to design and construct the Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4, water conveying facilities. Due for completion in 2021, the 5.4 billion-Peso (approximately HK$800 million) project will improve the long-term water supply services between Novaliches and Balara in Quezon City, the most populated city in the Metro Manila area. One of the two contractors also worked with AAIH previously on the Sha Tin-Central Rail Link project, constructing the tunnel between the Kai Tak and Diamond Hill MTR Stations.
In addition to the Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 project, Pang said AAIH is exploring collaborative relationships with construction firms in Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. “Other than project management, we are looking at ways to set up material and equipment sourcing collaborations to provide benefits along the construction supply chain,” said Pang. He said establishing connections with local stakeholders and introducing best construction project management practices is a good example of the Belt and Road ethos of promoting cooperation, mutual learning and mutual benefits.
Stephen Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Chun Wo Construction Holdings Limited, said it is noteworthy the Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 project, which features a 7km long and nearly 4m diameter tunnel, will be the first tunnel in the Metro Manila area to be constructed using a tunnel boring machine (TBM). Used as an alternative to drilling and blasting methods, the use of TBMs requires expert planning and operating processes. “Our project management team has worked on challenging tunnelling projects in Hong Kong and will apply their skills and experience on the Philippines tunnelling project,” Lee said. Ahead of the commencement of tunnelling work, currently, geotechnical inspection work is being conducted to evaluate soil conditions and groundwater conditions.
With a wealth of experience in the construction industry, Edward Yeung, Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of AAIH said by working with Philippine sub-contractors and employing local labour, AAIH can introduce the latest construction techniques and help fast track up-skilling. “The Philippines may lag behind the sophistication of Hong Kong's construction industry, but there is a lot of enthusiasm and commitment to improve,” noted Yeung. Dubbed by the government as the “golden age of infrastructure”, the Philippines has launched a major public spending programme focused on the construction of new roads, bridges, railways, and airports costing some US$167 billion. “As a company that possess extensive experience in project management and construction, AAIH is looking forward to sharing our expertise with suitable partners,” said Yeung.