More stations on Sha Tin-Central link should face scrutiny

  • By the time Hung Hom station opens it will have faced so much scrutiny it should be the safest station on the MTR network
  • It is not clear we can say the same about other stations on the HK$97.1 billion link
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2019, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2019, 8:28am

Given the construction lapses, lax supervision and alleged cover-ups that have been so far uncovered, are we to assume that problems have only been confined to just one station on the Sha Tin-Central link?

This is a rhetorical question. There should be follow-through to probe problems at other stations on the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) MTR link as well.

The government successfully restricted the investigative mandate of the commission of inquiry – headed by former Court of Final Appeal judge Michael Hartmann – to the Hung Hom station. Opposition lawmakers, not unreasonably, are lobbying for a separate investigation. But they bungled it again; or was it a half-hearted attempt which they didn’t believe in themselves? The way they presented their demand made it easy for Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung to ridicule and shoot it down.

“This would only lead to duplication and redundancy, and is not very meaningful,” he said.

Of course it would, if it were confined to covering the same ground as Harmann’s commission. Lawmakers should have made it clear they are not repeating the same inquiry over Hung Hom, but other stations with potential problems as well.

What does missing document scandal mean for Sha Tin-Central rail link?

We already know of unauthorised work on an internal wall and the removal of reinforcement bars at To Kwa Wan station.

At the Exhibition Centre station in Wan Chai, workers had reportedly dug deeper than allowed before the installation of underground support.

Subsidence issues have also been reported at both stations and in their neighbourhoods, though both the MTR and the government insist they pose no safety risks after raising the acceptable levels of subsidence.

So, is the public supposed to be reassured? A report on its findings at Hung Hom is due to be submitted by the commission to the government next month and promises to make interesting reading. Let’s see how long officials will sit on it before releasing it to the public.

The latest revelation is that more than 60 per cent of inspection documents for work at Hung Hom have gone missing and most may never be recovered. How convenient! By the time Hung Hom station is ready to open, it will no doubt be the safest station in the MTR network as a result of so much scrutiny by the government, the MTR, the commission and police. It’s not clear we can say the same about the other stations along the new link.