Contractors confident of victory
By KEITH WALLIS
CONTRACTORS believe they have won their contract conditions dispute with the Provisional Airport Authority after nearly eight hours of meetings yesterday between the PAA and the Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA).
A deal will be confirmed today after further meetings between the two sides that will pave the way for work to continue on the mammoth airport projects.
An agreement will also provide an important lifeline to the PAA, which would otherwise face a barrage of criticism at today's meeting of the Airport Consultative Committee (ACC).
Even though a settlement is due, several members of the committee are expected to seek reassurance that overall progress on the airport project will not be adversely affected by the 10-week wrangle over contract conditions.
Hopes for an agreement grew after it was revealed that the construction association's negotiating team planned to meet most of the association's 350 members this afternoon after talks with the PAA.
''The extra few hours the HKCA and PAA have together will hopefully enable a comprehensive agreement to be thrashed out,'' said a source.
A PAA insider confirmed there had been ''substantial progress'' and said both organisations would meet again first thing this morning to settle outstanding issues.
He refused to go into detail, but it is believed the PAA has had to make major concessions to reach agreement with the association. These include modifying its approach to dispute resolution so that contractors are able to resolve some issues while construction continues.
The association wanted to scrap the PAA's plan to force contractors to pay for extra work as a result of design changes or ground settlement outside their control.
It insisted the PAA should abandon its intention to levy general damages against contractors, saying no insurance company would cover the risk.