The subcontractor involved in MTR Corporation’s Hung Hom station expansion works has suggested that the railway operator may be shielding the main contractor, Leighton, following a controversy related to steel rebars used in the construction project.
Jason Poon Chuk-hung, director of the subcontractor China Technology Corporation (CTC), said in media interviews that he saw people cutting short the steel bars “deliberately and systematically”.
He said the decision to trim the steel bars was well thought and planned, and not a mistake from an individual worker, as hydraulic cutters had been deployed to speed up the cutting.
He estimated that there are hundreds, or even thousands, of shortened rebars, instead of 17 as the MTRC said in its report, because the whole cutting took more than a year.
CTC examined the site with a Leighton inspector and took pictures and videos on the rebar trimming in September 2015, and as per the evidence at that time, at least 30 screw couplers had been cut, according to Poon.
Leighton’s workers removed part of the concrete and accidentally damaged the couplers, he alleged.
“We told them (MTRC) in the interview the number of trimmed rebars, who cut the rebars, how to cut them, and how to identify the people who cut them; all of these are acknowledged by the MTRC,” Poon said in a Cable News interview.
“I don’t understand why the MTRC excluded those in the report,” he said. “The report will be more complete if these are included.”
Poon said the disclosure is to protect his company because the subcontractor is responsible for most of the supporting construction work except the rebar fixing.
He worried that if there are platform safety issues in 20 or 30 years, his company would be held accountable, especially as the sea water leakages in September last year would increase such danger.
Poon said CTC was satisfied with Leighton’s remedial measures suggested in September last year and had signed a confidential agreement to delete some of the records.
And the part of the record they kept cannot be disclosed because of the agreement, he added.
As to the reason why the subcontractor is coming out now, he said the MTRC’s statement on Wednesday prompted him to clarify the issue.
He admitted that Leighton owes CTC HK$80 million but denied that was a reason for him to publicize the matter.
MTRC issued a statement Wednesday in which it said raising “unverified allegation and conjecture” won’t help matters, and such activities will only serve to undermine the public’s trust on railway infrastructure.
Poon suspects MTRC is harboring Leighton as the railway operator’s management must have been notified because Leighton forwarded the complaint mail to the rail firm.
The Hung Hom works controversy relates to allegations that some steel bars had been cut short to make it look like they had been screwed properly into couplers on a platform under construction.
Apple Daily exposed the scandal after it obtained emails that involved reporting on trimming of the rebars.
The police have received a referral from the Highways Department to start an investigation into the shoddy work and the alleged cover-up.
Lawmaker James To Kun-sun said the police should contact Poon to recover the video footage and photos deleted because of the confidential agreement.