HAM dredges up quality
THE Dutch dredging company Hollandsche Aanneming Maatschappij, better known as HAM, is confident of Hongkong's future despite the current Sino-British dispute over Governor Mr Chris Patten's political reforms.
The company, which has been actively engaged in various reclamation projects in the territory over the past seven years, has been through every major crisis which has hit Hongkong since 1986.
Mr Otto Verkerke, HAM's area director, was optimistic about the future because Hongkong had been through several crises before but had always survived them.
''I think the people of Hongkong are so positive-minded, no one can stop them,'' he said, adding that the present hurdle - the dispute over the Governor's political reforms - was no different.
Hongkong, like everywhere else, would have its share of disagreements but they would eventually be resolved, he added.
And Mr Verkerke believed that Hongkong would also forge strongly ahead in all sectors, especially in its outlook towards quality in the future.
He said that this was demonstrated when the Government selected the contractor for the Tsing Ma Bridge project.
On that occasion, a contractor was selected based on quality instead of another contractor who had bid 40 per cent lower for the project.
''We will not compromise quality to obtain a project by naming a lower price,'' stressed Mr Verkerke.
Standards of quality and safety, he said, could not be set if the project owners did not want to pay a higher price.
But he was confident the mentality of the industry and clients would change gradually towards improved quality and safety as was the case in the oil industry.
Although competition is very keen among marine contractors in Hongkong, HAM has still managed to obtain a fair share of Hongkong's marine projects despite adhering to its strict quality standards.
HAM likens itself to a crab: it digs holes, removes sand from the waterfront and transports it elsewhere. But HAM does it on a somewhat larger scale than the crab and with another purpose in mind: to make room for people.
When HAM first came to Hongkong, the dredging specialists teamed up with the Japanese Kumagai Gumi to carry out reclamation work on container terminal six and seven between 1986 and 1990.
The company also carried out other smaller contract work at Repulse Bay, Lamma Power Station and Tsing Yi island until it bagged a US$70 million advance work contract on the new Chek Lap Kok airport project between 1991 and 1992.
HAM also became the main contractor for phase one of the US$70-million West Kowloon reclamation project which was completed recently. It is now acting as a sub-contractor for the reclamation work involving the Tai Ho section of the North Lantau Expressway and the Site Preparation Contract of the new airport project.
Mr Verkerke said HAM had five trailing suction hopper dredgers - Geopotes X, Geopotes 15, Geopotes IX, PCS van Hattem, HAM 308 which was damaged in February when a World War II bomb exploded) - and two cutter section dredgers - Australia and HAM 250 in Hongkong.
And to keep pace with the increasing demand, HAM is bringing another dredger, HAM 310, which had been used previously on the container terminal six and seven projects, back to the territory. The dredger is now working in an oil field in The Netherlands.
HAM, which has its regional headquarters in Hongkong, is now eyeing the mammoth container terminal nine project for a piece of the action. But, unfortunately, the fate of the project is still hanging fire after it was dragged into the Sino-British dispute last year.
The marine specialist, which is also vying for the Central Wan Chai reclamation project and developments in Junk Bay, is tendering for projects in Taiwan and the Philippines.
HAM has put forward proposals to assist the Philippines under the Dutch Economic Development Aid programme to restore its hydro-electric plant which was damaged by the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption.
More than 800 people were killed when Mount Pinatubo, in central Luzon, 100 kilometres northwest of Manila, exploded in June, 1991, in one of the country's worst volcanic eruptions.