TEN international and local contractors are to submit tenders today for the construction of passenger terminal foundations at Chek Lap Kok airport.
This is the first contract to be bid for since contractors won their bruising 12-week contract conditions dispute with the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) last week.
Tenders for three other advanced work contracts, covering water pipelines, site accommodation, temporary utilities and roads will be submitted tomorrow.
The tenders for a fifth contract for temporary ferry piers are to be returned on May 16, nearly two months after the six shortlisted construction firms boycotted the job.
The boycott forced the PAA to soften its contract conditions and negotiate a deal with the Hong Kong Construction Association.
The combined value of the work is about $1 billion, but the foundations contract is the most crucial because until the foundations are completed, work on the rest of the 1.3 kilometre terminal cannot be started.
The job has already been delayed by about a month, but the PAA hopes to reduce some of the delay by speeding up the time it takes to assess tenders. A contract could be awarded by the end of the month.
Among the firms bidding are Gammon Construction, Shui On, Franki Contractors, Hip Hing Construction, Leighton Contractors (Asia) of Australia, Dragages of France, Amec of Britain and Aoki of Japan.
A swift decision is also expected on the other contracts.
Many of the same contractors are preparing bids for the other work. But additional firms include McConnell Dowell and Downer of New Zealand, Alfred McAlpine and Costain of Britain, Nishimatsu of Japan and local firms Paul Y, Sung Foo Kee and Hung Wan Construction.
Cash has already been approved by the Legislative Council, which was becoming increasingly worried that the contractors' row was irrevocably delaying the airport project.
A settlement was finally reached a week ago when the PAA agreed to set up an independent panel to arbitrate on disputes as they arise during construction.
The PAA also agreed to four other important concessions limiting the powers of its project managers, restricting the amount of extra unpaid work contractors have to carry out for design changes and ground settlement, and limiting contractors' liability on the amount of general damages the PAA can impose for delayed or shoddy work.