Low-quality pipe fittings manufactured in the mainland are being sold for as little as 1 yuan (16 US cents) each in Shenzhen, fueling speculation that they may be the cause of the lead-tainted water supply in parts of Hong Kong.
The lead contamination scare in Kai Ching Estate and several other public housing estates in Hong Kong has prompted concern among the public whether prefabricated pipe fittings produced by Shenzhen Hailong Building Products Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China State Construction International Holdings Ltd. (03311.HK), the main contractor for those housing estates, Headline Daily reported Wednesday.
Shenzhen Hailong’s website says the firm has supplied prefabricated construction parts to contractors for major projects in Hong Kong since 2002.
The projects include Stonecutters’ Bridge, housing developments by Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. on Po Lam Road, and Lake Silver, developed by Sino Land Co. Ltd. (00083.HK) at the Wu Kai Sha railway station.
Hailong manufactures prefabricated cement parts, such as kitchen units, external walls and T-shaped pillars used in the construction of flyovers.
A former Hailong employee surnamed Yip said the firm’s Shenzhen plant once employed up to 500 people, but it has been laying off workers in recent years, including Yip himself, as business has gone down.
The average monthly salary for workers at the plant is about 5,000 yuan (US$805), and many employee benefits have been cut.
Reporters for the newspaper found that cheap welded pipe fittings can be bought at many metal parts shops in the Luohu district of Shenzhen.
Shop owners said these poor-quality fittings are sold at 1-5 yuan each.
Those made of copper and stainless steel cost 4-5 yuan apiece, while those made of anodized copper cost only 1 yuan.
Similar products can be obtained from online shops on the Taobao e-commerce platform, costing about 2.5 yuan each.
Shop owners in Shenzhen said most of the pipe fittings used nowadays in mainland construction projects are made of plastic, as they are easier to seal and free from rust stains.
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