US firm banned from bidding for Hong Kong contracts for one year following bridge arrests
Development Bureau says Jacobs China’s performance in running laboratory responsible for compliance tests of bridge’s construction materials was ‘unacceptable’
A US engineering firm, some of whose staff have been accused of tampering with quality test results for the bridge linking Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau, has been banned from bidding for government consultancy contracts for one year.
The Development Bureau said on Friday that Jacobs China’s performance in running a laboratory responsible for compliance tests of the bridge’s construction materials was “unacceptable”.
But existing government contracts linked to the firm will not be suspended.
In a shocking revelation last week, the Independent Commission Against Corruption arrested 21 employees of Jacobs China, who were accused of faking concrete test results for the mega project by altering time stamps and switching samples.
The consultancy firm is part of US-based Jacobs Engineering Group, which employs 54,000 people worldwide and netted US$10.9 billion last year.
More than a week after the scandal broke, the Civil Engineering and Development Department decided to bar Jacobs China from tendering for any architectural and engineering consultancy work handed out by its selection boards for one year.
The ban will be lifted after June 1, 2018.
As for consultancy contracts signed before the suspension period, “the tender assessment panels of government departments concerned shall, in accordance with relevant guidelines of the works technical circular, assess Jacobs’ tenders in detail and seriously consider whether such tenders should be further processed,” a government spokesman said
Records from the department’s website indicated that Jacobs China was still involved in at least two government consultancy contracts.
The latest – involving the establishment of an agricultural park in Kwu Tung in the northern New Territories – was awarded on March 20 for HK$10.9 million and will last until 2024.
The firm was also the consultant for the HK$265 million facelift of Mui Wo on Lantau, due to be completed in 2019.
The company’s previous work included engineering services for the design and site investigation phase of the Hong Kong section of the high-speed railway to Guangzhou.
The fallout began after it was found that some of the company’s senior executives, laboratory technicians and assistants had forged concrete compression test results as early as 2015.
The laboratory involved, located in Siu Ho Wan on Lantau, has stopped operating.
The immediate question, however, concerns the structural safety of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.
Documents sent by the Highways Department to the Legislative Council’s transport panel on Friday evening revealed that engineering firm C M Wong & Associates was tasked on May 31 to conduct a series of strength tests on the bridge’s structure. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of October.
“As of May 31, all inspections by the Highways Department indicated the [bridge] was structurally sound, and no abnormalities were found or that it posed any structural safety issue,” the department said.
The department also suggested that a “comprehensive load test” be conducted on the 9.4km Hong Kong section of the bridge before it is commissioned.