19 May 2019
The contractors were suspended from participation in public works projects for three months to one year. Photo: HKEJ
The contractors were suspended from participation in public works projects for three months to one year. Photo: HKEJ

Four contractors suspended over MTR Shatin-Central Link scandals

The government has meted out punishments to four contractors responsible for the shoddy-work scandals that have rocked the HK$87.3 billion MTR Shatin-Central Link (SCL) project.

The Development Bureau said the actions taken against Leighton Contractors (Asia), Samsung C & T, Hsin Chong Construction and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) pertain to construction issues at the MTR Hung Hom Station, To Kwa Wan Station and Exhibition Centre Station under the project, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

According to the Contractor Management Handbook, which was promulgated by the government in 2001 to monitor the performance of public works contractors and suppliers, the bureau can take appropriate regulating actions against the contractors in accordance with established procedures if they are found or suspected to have committed serious poor performance in any public or private sector works contract.

Regulating actions include suspension from tendering, downgrading to probationary status, demotion to a lower group, or removal from the relevant Lists of Approved Contractors for Public Works and of Approved Suppliers of Materials and Specialist Contractors for Public Works (Approved Lists).

At the Hung Hom Station, it was found that the contractors cut short the steel bars for the concrete walls of the underground platforms and tampered with engineering designs.

For that, the bureau banned Leighton from bidding for all works under the Approved Lists system for a period of 12 months until Oct. 7, 2019.

For the construction issues associated with To Kwa Wan Station, joint-venture partners Samsung C&T and Hsin Chong were suspended from tendering for all work categories under which they are listed on the Approved Lists for a period of four months.

In addition, joint-venture partners Leighton and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) were both suspended from tendering for the work categories of “Buildings (Group C)” and “Roads and Drainage (Group C)” for a period of three months, over construction issues related to the Exhibition Centre Station.

Group C works refer to a public works contract worth more than HK$300 million.

A Development Bureau spokesman said the suspension period for China State Construction took effect from Monday while that for Leighton will only take effect at the end of its suspension period relating to Hung Hom Station.

While Leighton still owns several unfinished contracts worth over HK$30 billion, which involve works at boundary crossing facilities of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the East Kowloon Cultural Center and the Car Park at Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport, they are expected not to be immediately affected by the suspensions faced by the company.

Hsin Chong declined to comment on the government’s punitive actions, while China State Construction said it respects the bureau’s decision.

This is not the first time that Leighton had been punished. In 2015, it received a one-month suspension from participating in government tenders, and another four-month suspension earlier this year over safety incidents at construction sites.

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