CONSTRUCTION DELAYS DELAYS to a public housing project in Ma On Shan did not relate to the discovery of a marble cavern under the construction site. Secretary for Housing Dominic Wong Shing-wah said in a reply to legislators that the delay was due to the piling contractor's use of inadequate machinery and insufficiently experienced workers. He added that foundation work was already about seven months behind schedule before the cavern was found. Construction of four 36-storey towers containing 2,720 home ownership and rental flats has been stopped after the discovery of the marble cavern. The piling contractor considered it too dangerous to continue after part of the site collapsed leaving a two-metre hole. But the official agreed with the Housing Department consultants' view it was safe to continue the project following the specialist design of the piling work and the detailed technical requirements specified in the piling contract. He reiterated that the Government had been aware of the marble caverns in Ma On Shan Area before the project started. Mr Wong said if the piling contractor continued to work at his present pace, piling would be completed in January 1998. The target completion date was June 2000. It was not possible at this stage to provide an estimate of additional cost since much would depend on how and when piling resumed. But Mr Wong made clear that the contractor was liable for liquidated damages in respect of any delay.