Highways Department slams MTR’s response to latest construction scandal on Sha Tin to Central rail link
It claims it wrote to Hong Kong’s rail operator multiple times for information on a section of wall that may not have been properly reinforced
The MTR Corporation’s explanation for the latest substandard works scandal on the Sha Tin to Central rail link has been “unsatisfactory”, the Highways Department said on Tuesday, criticising its lax supervision as “disappointing”.
It has asked the embattled rail operator to submit a detailed report on the fiasco within one week.
It was revealed on Monday that a 30 metre-long wall next to a staircase at the future To Kwan Wan station platform may not have been reinforced properly, adding yet another headache to Hong Kong’s most expensive railway project.
On Tuesday, the department said it had written to the rail operator multiple times over the week for more information on the problem but what they produced was not satisfactory.
“The MTRCL’s reply did not contain information such as the extent of the [problem of the] wall in question, the cause of the incident, the supervision of works and the impact on the structure,” the department added, saying it was “disappointing and unacceptable” that the operator had failed to identify the problems during its supervision of the works.
The MTR admitted to the department on June 8 that its contractor did not follow blueprints to carry out part of the work for the reinforced concrete wall adjacent to the staircases at the station platform.
“The Highways Department has required the MTRCL to submit a report on the incident within one week [on or before June 18] with a detailed explanation of the cause of the incident and rectification plan.”
The revelation emerged after HK First lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, citing information from a “frontline worker”, said workmen were instructed to remove a layer of reinforcement bars to make the wall thinner and bringing it more in line with the original design on the blueprint.
“Half of the reinforcement bars and a third of the cement was removed,” she said.
MTR Corp confirmed on Monday that a wall adjacent to stairs on the platform station had “deviated” from the original design, but that there would be no “safety risk”.
It also said the contractor had been told to give a “full account” of the incident and draw up a rectification proposal. The operator said it would conduct a thorough investigation of the contractor’s inspection processes as well as internally.
The HK$4.57 billion (US$582.4 million) contract was awarded to a joint venture between Hsin Chong Group Holdings and Samsung C&T in July 2012. Neither contractor has responded for comment.
The fresh scandal came less than a week after MTR Corp acknowledged a subcontractor had cut corners in the construction of a new platform under the same rail link’s Hung Hom station, part of a HK$5.2 billion contract.