Rock blamed for delay
By KEITH WALLIS
INFERIOR rock is being partially blamed for a delay in the return of tenders for the massive $3 billion runway construction contract at Chek Lap Kok.
The rock, excavated from Chek Lap Kok and stockpiled as part of the main reclamation work, is earmarked by the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) for the runway, apron and airfield pavements.
But tests showed it would not meet the PAA's specifications because it was prone to flaking, making it harder to mix with cement.
The problem surfaced last week when the nine consortiums bidding for the project were given a 21-day extension to return their tenders after receiving a huge package of design and specification changes.
Bids were due back today but will not now be returned until mid-February.
'We believe the difficulties were caused because the rock did not meet PAA's rigid specifications,' said the head of one construction firm.
One way of overcoming the difficulties was to import harder material which could be used for heavily used areas including the runway threshold. But this might increase the cost.
Construction sources said it became almost impossible to meet the earlier deadline after the PAA issued the changes just after Christmas.
'There was a huge addendum to the contract documents. We just could not cope,' said another construction firm head, who expects the PAA to issue further amendments in the next few days.
Design difficulties have also affected contract 410, the construction of roads, sewers and infrastructure, although these problems are not thought to be as serious as the airfield work.
PAA's corporate development director, Clinton Leeks, refused to comment on contractors' claims, saying it would be inappropriate during the tendering process.
But he confirmed all the contracting groups asked for additional time once the extra design details were issued.
The PAA is confident construction will not be delayed and plans to award the contract by the end of March, within the original schedule.