Hong Kong MTR

MTR Corp faces close scrutiny from Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam after Sha Tin to Central link platform scandal

Chief Executive Carrie Lam breaks silence over irregularities that emerged last week involving construction of platforms for HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin-Central link project

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 6:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 9:16pm

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says she is highly concerned about a corner-cutting scandal that hit the city’s most costly rail project, pledging to put the MTR Corporation under scrutiny over any remedial action.

The chief executive on Tuesday spoke for the first time on the scandal that emerged last week involving a key part of the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.38 billion) Sha Tin-Central link. The irregularity concerned construction of platforms at Hung Hom station.

Last Friday, the government demanded that the rail giant submit a report within one week to explain safety concerns and arrange for an independent expert to conduct load testing on the platforms.

“I can assure you and the public that once the facts have been obtained, we will disclose them and inform the public if there is a need for any remedial action,” Lam said before her weekly meeting with the Executive Council, her cabinet.

The MTR Corp admitted last week that a subcontractor had on five occasions produced substandard work for platforms in September 2015, with workers cutting steel bars to make it seem as though they had been screwed correctly into couplers.

MTR ‘sent confusing messages’ over platform scandal, says rail boss

The corporation said the fault was eventually rectified in August 2016.

The work involved the floor of one of two underground levels being built beneath Hung Hom station to house four platforms on the under-construction Tuen Ma Line, an 11km section of the larger link running between Tai Wai and Hung Hom’s West Rail corridor which terminates at Tuen Mun.

Leighton Contractors (Asia) was the main firm building the platforms. A HK$5.2 billion (US$662.7 million) contract signed in March 2013 required Leighton to take charge of the construction of Hung Hom station and stabling sidings for the Sha Tin-Central link project.

The firm subcontracted part of the job to China Technology Corp in a HK$150 million deal, but MTR Corp said it was another subcontractor hired by Leighton that carried out the substandard work on the bars.

The Post learned that the scandal arose from a feud between Leighton and China Technology Corp over a fatal accident last November at another site involving the construction of a new checkpoint at Liang Tang near the border with mainland China.

Here’s why there’s no need to lose faith in Hong Kong’s MTR system

A China Technology Corp official admitted to the Post the company had fallen out with Leighton over the Liang Tang project, and that it would no longer work with it on any future projects. The Post contacted Leighton for comment.

MTR chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said after an urgent 2½-hour board meeting on Tuesday that the corporation was highly concerned about the scandal and promised to reveal more details in a press conference on Wednesday.

The rail link has been hit by delays and is HK$16.5 billion over budget, now carrying a price tag of HK$97.1 billion.