Hong Kong MTR

Leaked photos of Hong Kong MTR Sha Tin-Central rail link station suggest wall made of construction waste, not concrete

Separately, subcontractor says police investigating scandal involving another station failed to open case due to insufficient information from Highways Department

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 8:18am

Fresh controversy hit Hong Kong’s costliest rail project on Friday as leaked photos showed a staircase wall at a subway station platform suggesting it was made of construction waste instead of pure concrete.

The latest news of shoddy work on the MTR Corporation’s HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) Sha Tin-Central rail link came from lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who obtained the images from someone claiming to be a former construction worker at the To Kwa Wan station site.

It was the second incident involving the station following a recent wave of revelations about substandard construction at two other stations along the link, at Hung Hom and Exhibition Centre.

According to the informant, Mo said, a staircase wall between the station platform’s second and third floors comprised a mixture of concrete and construction waste, such as crushed stones and steel bars.

The lawmaker explained she sought expert advice from someone who once worked on the project and was told using construction waste would reduce expenses.

“The professional told me the use of waste mixture with some concrete could save a lot on costs, such as the disposal and transport of construction waste.

“In other words, this is cutting corners,” she said.

Mo called on the MTR Corp to inspect the wall and give the public a full account of what happened.

“If what this informant said is true, then this construction work was totally illegal and violated the safety guidelines.”

An MTR spokeswoman said the corporation was still contacting the station’s main contractor about the matter.

“The corporation will update the media once further information is available,” she said.

Transport and housing minister Frank Chan Fan said the government had been seriously following up on a number of problems found along the rail link. Chan declined to make further comments, citing ongoing intervention by law enforcement departments.

Earlier, in a report submitted to the Highways Department, the MTR Corp confirmed three cases of “unauthorised deviations” from design drawings for a To Kwa Wan station ­platform wall. A total of 60 square metres (645 sq ft) was shaved off, but the rail operator insisted the work posed no safety risk.

It involved a HK$4.57 billion contract awarded to a joint venture between Hsin Chong Group Holdings and Samsung C&T. The joint venture could not be reached for comment.

Separately, police investigating the Hung Hom station scandal had failed to open a case due to insufficient information from the Highways Department, according to Jason Poon Chuk-hung, director of the subcontractor China Technology Corporation.

In a report to the department, the MTR Corp said on five occasions between August and December 2015 some steel bars were trimmed to look like they had been screwed properly into couplers on the platforms, when they had not.

Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor for the Hung Hom station project, outsourced the concreting work to China Technology, and the steel bar work to Fang Sheung Construction.

Poon, who accused Leighton of engineering the shoddy work, gave statements to the rail giant, which failed to include them in its report to the department. Instead, the MTR Corp said the undisclosed statements were submitted separately to officials. On June 15, the department reported the matter to police for investigation.

Poon said he was contacted by police on Thursday.

I don’t know if the MTR distorted my account
Jason Poon Chuk-hung, for the subcontractor

“A Kowloon West police inspector asked me if I could come to help them open a case regarding this scandal.

“He said from the documents handed over by the Highways Department they couldn’t find anything relating to criminal acts,” he recalled. “He said they had no idea what the allegation was about.”

However, Poon added he told the inspector that police should have approached the department first.

“I don’t know how MTR presented my statements to the government,” he said. “I never had the chance to read them, nor was I asked to sign them. They aren’t made public and I don’t know if the MTR distorted my account.”

Poon claimed he told the inspector he would be willing to give police statements only after the Highways Department made its complaint clear to police.

A police spokeswoman said the department’s request was being followed up.