Testing deals 'not a waste'
ABOUT $54 million has been spent by the Housing Department on private engineering consultants to duplicate concrete testing work done by its own laboratories.
The revelations have been slammed by engineers who said the money could have been spent employing the firms to supervise construction work on site.
Three consultants - Harris & Sutherland, TBV Stanger and Mitchell McFarlane Brentnall & Partners - have been paid $500,000 each a month since September 1992 when they were appointed on three-year contracts.
These end in two months' time and will not be renewed.
'They were appointed to check on the performance of laboratories which were already monitored and regulated by the territory's laboratory accreditation scheme which ensures professional standards,' one engineer commented.
'It was a waste of money,' he added.
The laboratories are responsible for testing the strength and quality of concrete to ensure it meets government standards.
Housing Department assistant director (engineering), Chan Kwai-lung, agreed consultants had repeated much of the work done by laboratories.
'There has been some duplication. But five or six years ago when we first looked at the idea, the quality of laboratories had yet to be assessed. One of the main reasons [for using them] was to improve the quality of local testing laboratories,' he added.
'They have done a good job,' said Mr Chan.
He dismissed claims the money would have been better spent on site supervision.
'The testing element is a very important element of work on construction sites,' he said.