29 January 2020
The flooding was traced to subsidence at the construction site of the Lyric Theatre Complex. Photo: HKEJ
The flooding was traced to subsidence at the construction site of the Lyric Theatre Complex. Photo: HKEJ

Subsidence halts theater construction at West Kowloon arts hub

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has suspended construction work at a theater complex in the arts hub after subsidence caused by flooding was found, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The harbourfront project involves the Lyric Theatre Complex – which will house three theaters of large, medium and small seating capacity for dance and drama performances – and expansion of the basement, the WKCDA said.

In the early hours of Thursday, workers detected a water leakage, which was later traced to subsidence that is about 25 meters in diameter.

Flooding resulted from the cave-in, with the accumulated water estimated to be about 1.5 to 2 meters in depth.

While stressing that the situation does not pose any safety risk to the site, the WKCDA said it decided to put all construction work on hold as a precaution.

Gammon Construction Ltd., which is in charge of the HK$1.5 billion project, will conduct grouting operations during the period while a probe into the incident is underway.

It was understood that Gammon, a subsidiary of Jardine Matheson Holdings, stopped the leak at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, and no one was injured in the incident.

The company said grouting work would begin as soon as possible.

Based on photos taken by local media, parts of the construction site cracked, tilted or were underwater, while some of the machines, such as excavators, were almost completely submerged, RTHK reported.

Without elaborating on the cause of the incident, the WKCDA said it had informed the Buildings Department and other agencies about what had happened.

The department has asked the registered building professionals in charge of the project to submit a report on the results of the investigation on why the subsidence happened, suggest remedial actions, and continue monitoring the safety of the buildings near the construction site.

Calling the incident shocking, Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong, who is a member of the Legislative Council subcommittee monitoring the implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District project, questioned if Gammon had reported it in a timely fashion and why the WKCDA did not tell the public anything right after learning about it.

Lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong urged Gammon’s management to explain the incident in detail and give any remedial solution to ease concerns of people living in the vicinity.

Some engineers were cited by RTHK as saying that the incident may have been the result of poor water barriers, adding that such incidents are quite rare.

On Friday, WKCDA Chief Projects Officer Jeremy Stowe said remedial work has been immediately carried out to prevent seawater from continuing to pour into the construction site, adding that the subsidence situation has been under control.

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