24 February 2019
The Leighton-China State Joint Venture is under pressure over construction flaws at the SCL project. Photo: HKEJ
The Leighton-China State Joint Venture is under pressure over construction flaws at the SCL project. Photo: HKEJ

New construction problems unearthed at SCL project

Yet another set of construction flaws was discovered at the MTR Corp.’s Shatin-Central Link (SCL).

Two steel bar cages used to reinforce the Exhibition Centre station’s diaphragm walls were placed in the wrong direction, according to an MTR non-conformance report in June 2016, a copy of which was obtained by the Apple Daily.

The steel bars in the cages were supposed to be arranged so that the bars with the greater density and thickness would be towards the interior of the wall and the thinner ones toward the exterior.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan was furious when apprised of the latest scandal. “This is unacceptable,” he said.

The non-conformance report is a notice that MTR sent to the contractor to express its dissatisfaction with its work.

The rail operator said confusing signs used to indicate the cage direction in the approved drawings had caused the mistake.

The design consultant of the contractor Leighton-China State Joint Venture used “north” and “south” instead of the usual “soil” and “excavation”.

These “low-level mistakes” can affect the wall’s load-bearing capacity, or even cause the wall to crack, said Ngai Hok-yan, a senior civil engineer.

“They were no just installing a couple of cages but a large number of them. They should have been able to notice the differences,” another civil engineer, So Yiu-kwan, said. “How come the construction inspectors didn’t spot the mistake?”

The MTR confirmed the construction error and that it had already been rectified and approved by the government authorities.

The railway operator has been measuring and monitoring the structural safety of the diaphragm wall, MTR project director Philco Wong said on a radio program.

He acknowledged that the company had been “insensitive” to public concerns about the quality issues and promised to improve the notification system.

At a meeting of the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Secretary Chan said the notification system simply didn’t work since management had not even been informed.

“It is very disappointing. The government … the Bureau and the Highways Department feel so especially,” Chan said. “Every time, we learned about such incidents through news reports.”

“The contractor had continued to work for a very long time until another similar fault came up and another non-conformance report issued. This is unacceptable,” the minister said.

The latest scandal marks the fourth case of construction flaws discovered at the SCL project.

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