Date
21 October 2018
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan (inset) said the concrete slabs at the MTR platforms may have to be cracked open to allay public concerns over the safety of the structures. Photo: HKEJ
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan (inset) said the concrete slabs at the MTR platforms may have to be cracked open to allay public concerns over the safety of the structures. Photo: HKEJ

Govt wants MTR platforms smashed open to allay safety fears

Concrete slabs used in building underground platforms at the MTR Shatin-Central Link (SCL) may be smashed open to allow the inspection of their construction and allay public fears over the safety of the project, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan. 

Multiple construction flaws in the construction of the Hung Hom Station extension for the SCL project have been discovered over the past few months, leading to concerns that public safety may have been compromised.

For example, steel bars for the concrete walls of the platforms were found to have been cut short to cover up deficiencies while engineering designs have been tampered with.

Amid the scandal, the government on Aug. 15 formed a panel of experts to review the construction work for the HK$87.3 billion project. 

The panel was also tasked to recommend measures to be undertaken by the MTR and relevant government departments to ensure the structural safety of the project, including the problematic concrete slabs and diaphragm walls at the Hung Hom Station.

A media report quoted a source as saying that the team of experts has suggested that the concrete slabs be smashed open to check if steel bars were properly connected and secured by couplers.

The source said the government has agreed with the suggestion and asked MTR to seriously study its feasibility. It is hoped that a decision on which areas of the construction work will have to be opened and checked can be made in November.

The Transport and Housing Bureau has asked the MTR management to confirm the structural condition of the platforms, and this may require opening the connections between the diaphragm walls and platform slabs for inspection, and performing non-destructive tests and load tests on their strength.

The rail operator has agreed to submit its proposals as soon as possible.

In response to media inquiries, Chan said it would be inevitable that the slabs had to be cracked open to allay fears over the safety of the construction.

He said the experts’ team will formally submit its first interim report by the end of October and the government will decide on what moves to take based on the report, adding that it remains unclear when the long-delayed Shatin-Central Link will be opened, pending the MTR inspection.

Wong Chi-ming, a veteran engineer commissioned by MTR to conduct a load test on the Hung Hom Station facilities, warned that cracking open some of the concrete slabs could affect the structural soundness of the platforms, adding that it would be difficult to find a remedy if such a situation happened.

Michael Tien Puk-sun, chairman of the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, insisted that the government should ask Leighton Contractors (Asia), which was responsible for building the platforms, to pay for all the testing-related costs.

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