The history of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau is closely related to that of Macao, and the development of this Bureau can be revealed by the numerous constructions completed in the past centuries.
Since the late 17th century Macao has already been an internationally renowned commercial port with non-stopped urban development, though it still had certain difficult times. In the middle of 19th century, Macao found its way into urbanization transformation from a fishing village, and the gradual formation of the central district in Macao at that time led to a very great demand for public construction, such as road opening and land reclamation, all of which are of the responsibilities assumed by "the Public Works Bureau”.
The functions of the Public Works Bureau kept expanding to meet the needs of local development. In 1867, its functions comprised: construction, inspection and management of public buildings, streets, bridges, piers, roads, etc; work maintenance; land surveys and concessions; elaboration of official alignment plan for private buildings and participation in activities of public interests; proposal preparation for construction and reconstruction requests; map drawing and surveys; contract preparation and awarding for construction work and purchasing materials; researches on different aspects of all works, such as technology, architecture and economy.
In 1869, the functions of the Public Works Bureau further extended to swamp drainage, river dredging, and land exploration. It also managed parks eight years later. In 1892, the Public Works Bureau started to hold responsibilities for researches, construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and hydraulic works, for Macao as well as for Portugal, which also included irrigation, public buildings, land surveys, telegraph systems, lighthouses, mines, quarries, geological studies, etc.
By the end of the 3rd quarter of 1900, the duties of the Public Works Bureau were refined and made more concrete, with the major functions to issue construction and maintenance licenses of buildings of any kinds in Macao; to assume all jobs about awarding contracts, directing and inspecting on such works; and to enforce the related laws and regulations.
Fourteen years later, “the Charter of the Public Works Bureau” (in Portuguese, “o Regulamento Orgânico da Direcção das Obras Púbicas da Província de Macau”) was approved in order to increase the Bureau’s efficiency, resulting in establishment of four permanent sections, responsible respectively for “Public and Private Buildings”, “Roads and Sanitary Works”, “Hydraulic and other Works”, “Conservation of Roads, Parks and Forests”.
In early 1920s the improvement of the relations between Macao and the Mainland China had sped up the local urbanization development. The five sections under the Public Works Bureau assumed respectively the jobs for “Public and Private Buildings”, “Roads and Sanitary Works”, “Civil Architecture and Roads”, “Conservation of Parks and Forests” and “Technical Inspection on Electricity Services and the Electricity Industry”. After that, the Bureau was even responsible for construction of public works and monuments, and services in the areas of post, telegraph, telephone and radiotelegraph, and so on. In 1930 the functions of the Public Works Bureau were refined, making its eight sections take different jobs for all public works in Macao.
In fact, along with the society evolution the organizations of Macao Government had been reformed and restructured over and over again, so as to adapt themselves to the change of the Government’s managerial needs. The administrative organization responsible for public works, thus, had been assigned different names in different times, such as, in Portuguese, “Serviços de Obras Públicas”, “Direcção das Obras Públicas”, “Repartição Técnicas das Obras Públicas”, “Repartição Provincial dos Serviços de Obras Públicas, Portos e Transportes”, etc.
In October 1964, “the Charter of the Public Works and Transport Bureau” (in Portuguese, “Regulamento Orgânico da Repartição Provincial dos Serviços de Obras Públicas e Transportes”) was approved. The Bureau was then restructured and renamed to “Repartição Provincial dos Serviços de Obras Públicas e Transportes”, in Portuguese. A relatively large-scale reform of the Macao Government happened in 1981, in the hopes of responding better to the rapid development of society and economy of Macao with more professionalized government structure. This reform gave birth to five Secretaries, each of them supervised different government organizations with different functionalities. At that time the Public Works and Transport Bureau (“Repartição Provincial dos Serviços de Obras Públicas e Transportes”), together with the Construction Planning and Coordination Bureau (“Direcção dos Serviços de Planeamento e Coordinação de Empreendimento”), the Post, Telegraph and Telephone Bureau (“Direcção dos Correios, Telegrafia e Telefone”) and others were under supervision of the Secretary for Planning, Equipment and Infrastructure (“Secretário-Adjunto para o Ordenamento, Equipamento Físico e Infra-estruturas”). In the same year, a new Portuguese name, “Direcção dos Serviços de Obras Públicas e Transportes”, was given to the Public Works and Transport Bureau.
After that, the Bureau had been restructured twice, respectively in September of 1984 and in 1989, and finally became the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (“Direcção dos Serviços de Solos, Obras Públicas e Transportes”), through a merger with the Construction Planning and Coordination Bureau (“Direcção de Serviços de Planeamento e Coordenação de Empreendimento”). In the next year the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau was formally established and the Secretary for Planning, Equipment and Infrastructure was renamed to the Secretary for Transport and Public Works (“Secretaria-Adjunta para os Transportes e Obras Públicas”). Following the hand-over of the Macao’s sovereignty to China and the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China on 20th December 1999, a new Chinese name was given to the Bureau, but its Portuguese name was left unchanged. The Macau Government established on 13th May 2008, a bureau exclusively dedicated to traffic affairs, the functions of terrestrial transport of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau was abolished accordingly.