The government has ordered Leighton Asia, one of the main contractors of the MTR Corp.’s HK$87.3 billion Shatin-Central Link (SCL), to submit a report addressing safety concerns plaguing the construction work at Hung Hom station, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said.
The report should be handed in no later than Tuesday next week, Cheung told media on Monday. Cheung has been acting for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor since she began her visit to Europe last Thursday.
Work flaws, later confirmed by MTR itself, were found at the SCL’s Hung Hom Station last month and at the To Kwa Wan Station this month. Citing unnamed sources, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, chairman of the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, said on Sunday that flaws were also found in the construction work at the SCL’s Exhibition Centre Station, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
MTR has ordered a joint venture by Leighton and China State Construction to stop all excavation work related to the SCL project after finding that it had failed to follow the blueprint requiring sufficient support for the vertical walls that were built underground, Tien said.
However, MTR did not inform the authorities of the construction work flaws, media reports said.
Dr. Greg Wong Chak-yan, former president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said the ground could eventually collapse if the walls did not have sufficient support.
Leighton, which was responsible for building the underground platforms at the Hung Hom station, had been accused of ordering the steel bars to be cut short in a suspected attempt to cover up work flaws involving two main walls for one of the platforms.
After Tien’s revelation, Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said on Monday that a total of seven government construction projects are currently being undertaken by Leighton.
An inter-departmental task force has been set up to enhance inspections on the company’s works and any findings will be made public as soon as possible, he said.
The secretary did not directly respond when reporters asked whether the government has punished Leighton after it was fined HK$100,000 by a court for an industrial accident that caused one death at its construction site for Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point.
Meanwhile, Cheung said the Development Bureau could take regulatory action against Leighton if it is dissatisfied with its report or finds the company problematic.
Such action might include barring Leighton from bidding in government construction project tenders for a period of time or even having its license suspended, he said.
Cheung also said the investigation committee that Lam appointed on June 12 to look into the problems associated with the SCL project will only focus on the Hung Hom Station because including the To Kwa Wan and Exhibition Centre stations would make the scope of the inquiry too broad.
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