Project Management Institute

Hong Kong's Gridlock

Hong Kong has lost its mojo. The city was once a model of high-density urban development, but political tensions between city groups and the Chinese government have hampered Hong Kong's ability to execute projects big and small.

Take the high-speed rail line linking Hong Kong to the rest of China, for instance. Several years behind schedule and more than 30 percent over its original HK$65 billion budget, the project had to be reworked because land couldn't be obtained for construction above ground. The entire 26-kilometer (16.2-mile) line, expected to open in the third quarter of 2018, will be underground.

“This kind of a political atmosphere will disrupt many of the initiatives that may come along.”

—Anna Wu, executive council, Hong Kong, China

Political paralysis within Hong Kong's city government—where filibusters are rife—has put a wrench in projects that don't involve mainland China. The city, one of the world's most expensive places, has an affordable housing crisis. But opposition among local residents and environmentalists for proposed development projects has stymied progress.

“There's land in Hong Kong, but what we lack is developable land. We still need to seek local community support,” Anthony Cheung, Hong Kong's transport and housing secretary, told The New York Times.

Even relatively uncontentious projects, such as cleaning up the city's picturesque Victoria Harbor, have faced major delays. “This kind of a political atmosphere will disrupt many of the initiatives that may come along,” Anna Wu, a member of the territory's executive council, told the newspaper. —Jessica Boden


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