MTR Corp changes practices after hikers witness rocks plunging near workers The MTR Corp is introducing urgent measures to protect workers' and hikers' safety after it was revealed boulders fell from its cable car construction project on Lantau, narrowly missing two workers. But the rail operator has rejected accusations by conservationists that boulders displaced by the cable car project and related work are being pushed down the hillside to avoid the cost of removing them. Hikers who saw the incident on February 11 said the rocks missed two workers on an emergency boardwalk by just a metre, while other rocks smashed part of the wooden track. The boulders fell from a helipad being built near Tower Four of the cable car system that will connect Tung Chung with the Big Buddha. The hikers reported it to the Green Lantau Association. The federation's Fabian Pedrazzini said yesterday it could only be a result of sustained malpractice on the project. 'It is clear to me that large boulders have been deliberately pushed downhill in at least three separate directions,' he said. 'I estimate this way of disposing surplus material may have saved the MTR Corp 20 helicopter trips.' MTR Corp sustainability development manager Glenn Frommer rejected the allegation, saying it was not necessary to dispose of boulders by helicopter. Instead, the contractor was instructed to break the boulders into smaller pieces and place them on the periphery of the work site. 'What actually happened was the workers lost control of the boulders and they fell off the hill,' he said. 'Some of these fell down and a piece hit the rescue trail. There were people fixing cables on the trail the other side, and they were shaken by rocks passing.' He was 'very surprised' the hikers were there because a sign said: 'Construction site, do not enter.' Dr Frommer said the corporation had already reported the incident to the Labour, Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation departments. A plan would be worked out on how to deal with any remaining boulders that might also fall. Additional signs had also been erected on the trail to remind hikers to pay attention to their safety. 'It is a regrettable incident and we stopped work immediately. We had to review the situation as we are facing a dangerous situation ... and unstable rocks can fall any time,' Dr Frommer said. The chairman of the project's Sustainability Advisory Board, Richard Welford, said he acknowledged the incident was serious. 'Mistakes have been made along the way and this may well be one of them, but the idea behind having an advisory board was to try and mitigate these and learn from them,' he said. WWF conservation officer Alan Leung Sze-lun said site management should be strengthened to make sure loose materials were removed and dumped properly. 'When the rainy season comes, construction waste and loose materials that are not properly handled might wash away,' he said.