Lawmakers have hit out at the MTR Corporation after a dramatic increase in the number of accidents during the construction of the high-speed railway to Guangzhou, including the deaths of two workers.
Some 100 accidents were reported on the line between May and November last year, two of them fatal. By contrast, between the start of construction in 2010 and April last year there were 147 accidents, of which one was fatal.
Members of the Legislative Council's subcommittee on railways asked whether the rush to complete the controversial rail line had led to the increase.
"Why was there a sharp rise in accidents?" asked subcommittee chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun. "Was it because of the rush to meet deadline or not having enough trained workers?"
Maggie So Man-kit, MTR's deputy general manager for projects and property, said the rise in accidents reflected the amount of work being done at multiple locations.
"The number of accidents has gone up, but the average accident rate stays the same," So said.
The line has proved controversial for its HK$66.9 billion cost - making it the most expensive railway by length of track in the world - and the destruction of a village in Yuen Long to make way for a depot.
The head of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, Chan Kam-hong, yesterday urged construction workers to anonymously report unsafe conditions.