Date
19 October 2017
The West Kowloon terminus in a state of non-construction typical the delayed high-speed rail project. The latest flap in the fiasco is a 'mistranslation' of an independent panel report. Photo: HKEJ
The West Kowloon terminus in a state of non-construction typical the delayed high-speed rail project. The latest flap in the fiasco is a 'mistranslation' of an independent panel report. Photo: HKEJ

Lost in translation: MTR sorry for new high-speed rail flap

It wasn’t lack of manpower. There were enough people to do the job but there was just too little to go around.

As if the convoluted saga of the much delayed MTR high-speed rail project wasn’t enough, the story has added a layer of confusion after the Chinese version of a report by an independent panel was “mistranslated”, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.

“Inadequate work front” became “lack of manpower” in an explanatory section. Reporters found there were no issues with manpower but rather a large number of workers were left with nothing to do due to poor coordination of construction materials.

MTR Corp. apologized for the confusion but not before the story had taken a life of its own, with new characters emerging from the woodwork.

Constructive Group, which won a contract in 2012 to produce and supply rebars, has been criticised for shoddy planning and delivery.

“Rebars needed today were not ready. Yet, those scheduled for use in six months’ time were piling up on one side,” a worker was quoted as saying 

Up to 70 rebar workers were deployed to the site every day from 2012 and 2013 but many of them hardly had anything to get their hands on, the report said.

Legislators were quick to denounce MTR Corp. for yet another flap in the fiasco.

And engineering experts said inadequate work front is a bigger problem than lack of manpower given that MTR Corp. is a management company.

Albert Lai, policy convenor of pro-democracy group Professional Commons, said the rail operator should have clarified translation issues as soon as they arose.

MTR Corp. is also coming under intense criticism for repeated design changes that have caused nearly HK$100 million (US$12.9 million), the report said.

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