MTR Sha Tin to Central rail link: a time to count the costs and settle accounts
I refer to the article, “MTR to revamp top management as heads roll over rail link scandals” (August 7). I am disappointed at and furious with the MTR Corp’s poor performance in the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin to Central Link project.
The intentions behind building the link were all noble: it aimed to relieve the commuter bottlenecks on the Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong and East Rail lines, by redistributing passenger flows and expanding the capacity of the existing railway system, and to assist the renewal and development plan of the To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City and Kai Tak areas.
But first came severe cost overruns, then allegations of poor project management and now all-out scandals flagged by subcontractor whistle-blowers and uncovered by the press. The project may ultimately become an international laughing stock.
A “concession approach” was adopted for the link project, which means the expenditure for the whole project was to be borne by the government. As a result, the MTR Corp had no motivation to reduce costs. Furthermore, there is also the possibility that the quality of construction had been sacrificed because of yet another completion deadline approaching for the much-delayed project.
Although five members of the management team have resigned on the grounds of accountability, doubts remain, and in-depth investigations and policy reviews are required from the government to regain public confidence.
One option would be to replace the concession approach with the “ownership approach”, so that expenditure on future railway projects, such as the Tung Chung West extension and South Island Line (West), can be better controlled. An independent advisory committee, formed by experts in different fields, is also needed to monitor the progress and quality of construction.
Lam Hei Yin, Quarry Bay
MTR scandals leave Hong Kong engineers under a cloud
The people of Hong Kong, and the engineering profession, are shocked by the recent MTR scandals. We are facing a crisis of public distrust. The professionalism of engineers is being challenged.
The new term of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) presidency has just begun. Honestly, with this scandal behind Ir Philco Wong Nai-keung, we can no longer trust him to discharge his duties as HKIE president.
Ir Wong, the MTR projects director, was among top MTR executives who stepped down after the Hong Kong government demanded that heads roll. Resignation was definitely the only justifiable thing to do as all senior public officers of the MTR Corp should be held accountable for the string of scandals related to the Sha Tin to Central rail link.
It would be shameful for Ir Wong to be in the company of the Chief Executive of the SAR and other officials at the forthcoming annual HKIE Presidential Address/Dinner on September 7. I hereby call for the resignation of Ir Wong as president of the HKIE: it is the only option left open to him.
Ir L.C. Tong, Happy Valley