• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:01am
NewsHong Kong
LEISURE

Wheel or imagined? Contractor's readiness for Hong Kong Ferris wheel questioned

Rival bidder for contract to put up harbourside Ferris wheel says the winner 'has no wheel'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 4:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 2:17pm
 

The capability of the company chosen by the government to build Hong Kong’s answer to the London Eye has been cast into doubt by a rival who lost out in the race to take on the big-wheel project.

In May last year the Lands Department awarded a three-year contract to Swiss AEX, allowing it to operate an observation wheel in front of Central Pier berths nine and 10 for a monthly rent of HK$850,000.

The site has been vacant for a year, but preparatory work now appears to have begun with the arrival of several large containers.

However, an executive with Freij Entertainment, which was among five companies to bid for the contract, questioned whether Swiss AEX could finish the job before its contract ran out.

“The company has no wheel” for Hong Kong, chief executive Freij El Zein said.

He said the only wheel that Swiss AEX currently operates is in Bangkok. And even if the company was building a new wheel, it would take years to get the necessary permits. It took El Zein two years to secure permits to build the wheel he planned to bring to Hong Kong, he said.

“If the government gave us approval, [our] wheel could be in Hong Kong in two weeks,” he said.

According to the government’s tender document, the company with the highest combined “score” based on rent offer and technical performance would be awarded the wheel project. The rent score carried a weighting of 60 per cent.

El Zein was puzzled when his company lost out. His firm offered to pay a monthly rent of HK$962,000. That’s HK$112,000 more than Swiss AEX.

He also claimed Freij is the more experienced company; it was set up in 1987 and owns 27 Ferris wheels.

A Swiss AEX spokeswoman who gave the surname Hansol told the Post in an e-mail that a new wheel had already been constructed for Hong Kong.

“The wheel has been shipped from its construction factory and [the] first parts have arrived already in Hong Kong,” she said.

The Lands Department said Swiss AEX had been paying its rent and that its submissions to government departments for relevant licences were being processed.

“Should the tenant fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement, the Lands Department would take appropriate enforcement actions,” a spokesman added.

Swiss AEX’s website is under construction. Company records show Leon Snep, a Dutch national, is the company’s director of Swiss AEX.

According to the website rouedeparis.com, which proclaims “presented by Leon Snep”, Snep bought a transportable wheel, La Grande Roue de Paris, in 2005.

The Post found a website for Swiss AEX was under construction, but another one with the URL rouedeparis.com v states that it is “presented by Leon Snep”, and claims Snep bought a transportable Ferris wheel, La Grande Roue de Paris, in 2005.

“If you are interested in booking La Grande Roue de Paris for your city, please do not hesitate to contact us,” the website states.

El Zein said Snep does not own the wheel, because Freij Entertainment bought it “around 2008”. The Swiss AEX spokeswoman said that companies affiliated with Snep operated the wheel between 2005 and 2009.

The wheel was then sold because it had reached the end of its lifetime, she said. “Neither Swiss AEX, nor any person related to Swiss AEX, owns or is claiming ownership of Roue De Paris.”

Switzerland-based Ronald Bussink, the original designer and supplier of Roue de Paris, said the wheel had been with Snep-affiliated Magic Fair Attractions in the Netherlands before it went bankrupt in 2007.

“Then the wheel was sold … to Freij Entertainment who still currently own and operate the RDP [wheel] in Rimini, Italy. A Swiss AEX company is absolutely unknown to us as a wheel owner or buyer,” he wrote in an email.

Other sources with knowledge of the European amusement industry have said that before 2005 Snep was a low-ranking worker. In 2005 he reportedly became involved in multimillion-euro amusement rides in his native Netherlands, but may have left the continent in 2008 after business went downhill.

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This article is now closed to comments

5375f15c-2838-4b78-a826-08e80a3209ca
Refer to ****www.hfc.org.hk/filemanager/files/TFHK_05_2014.pdf , the wheel will be operated in Sep 2014, which will be 60 metres high.
5370d416-5910-4dce-a788-0bca0a320969
One more thing I observed. The yellow bath duck was a phenomenal success. Why can’t we give the wheel a chance? It is a private enterprise and not a government funding project.
5370d416-5910-4dce-a788-0bca0a320969
To be fair, I think if someone would like to invest in HK, it should be good sign of our economy. Why can’t we support them? I will ride the wheel and have fun!
impala
This is not an article, it is a transcript of scribbled notes that the author took while researching it. I guess expecting the distillation of those notes into a coherent text was too much trouble.
kevinhuanghk1
Is the sub editor on leave?
14u2nv
this article is borderline gibberish.
skhk
Wow this article is so poorly written.
dynamco
"questioned if questioned whether Swiss AEX can could finish the job before its contract ran out."
WTF wrote this unedited crxp ? SCMP plumbing the depths again
HK-Explorer
The government is not listening. We need toilets not Ferris wheels! HK government needs to create the public toilet commission and run a multi million dollar study on building public toilets. Then 2 years from now they can go to lego and say they need additional 1 billion $ as the cost of building toilets increased 10000%.
Maybe the wheel will attract tourists as the will see the beacon of a massive toilet in the sky.
Dao-Phooy
Let's hope the whole thing fades away and we'll be spared this eye-sore. The project is a colossal waste of money.

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