‘I was just lazy’ admits man accused of faking concrete test reports on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
Former site laboratory technician admitted using false instruments to produce test reports for multibillion-dollar infrastructure project
One of 19 laboratory employees embroiled in a scandal involving faked test reports for a mega bridge project in Hong Kong has admitted he was just lazy.
Former laboratory technician, Wong Kwok-yiu, pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of using false instruments to produce reports on concrete cubes intended for the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, between 2012 and 2015.
His lawyer told Tuen Mun Court the man, 61, had cheated merely out of laziness and fear he would be reprimanded for his mistakes. There was no bribery involved, he assured the court, adding that the concrete cubes in question had met the required standard.
But acting principal magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei said: “If the cubes had been of substandard quality … it would have affected the bridge’s structural safety.”
The 55km crossing, which is a combination of bridges and a tunnel, has been under construction since 2011 and will link three major cities in the Pearl River Delta – Zhuhai in mainland China and the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
In late 2012, Hong Kong’s Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) set up a laboratory to conduct various compliance tests on concrete cubes, soil, rock and steel bars for the project, with the work undertaken by the Highways Department.
The management and operation work was outsourced to a contractor, Jacobs China Limited, for whom Wong was employed. Stationed at the Public Works Regional Laboratory in Siu Ho Wan, Wong was supposed to conduct compression tests on the concrete cubes to ensure they met the Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme’s standard.
Between September 1, 2012 and June 30, 2015, Wong inputted one measurement incorrectly and on one occasion used the wrong cube when testing the materials – causing two results to be inaccurate. To cover it up, he used a high-strength concrete cube to simulate a compression test, the court heard.
The results were sent to a CEDD principal technical officer, who was led to believe they were genuine and that he could issue accredited reports.
Chui adjourned the case to December 1 for sentencing and requested a report on Wong’s background.
Some 18 others face one count of conspiracy to defraud but were not yet required to make a plea. They will appear in the District Court on December 7.
Since its construction, the bridge has been plagued by delays and an ever-increasing price tag that has now reached HK$117 billion (US$15 billion). There have also been more than 270 incidents, with at least 10 workers killed and more than 600 injured.