Govt reveals missing records, design changes at MTR project

January 31, 2019 15:13
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan (left) and Director of Highways Jimmy Chan hold a press conference on the latest findings about the MTR Hong Hum Station extension works on Wednesday. Photo: HKEJ

Construction of several facilities at the MTR Hung Hom Station under the HK$97.1 billion Shatin-Central Link (SCL) rail project had progressed without securing official approvals first, the government said.

The revelation was the latest flaw found in the extension works at the station after multiple issues, including steel bars that had been cut short and engineering designs that had been tampered with, had been confirmed since last year and led to concerns that public safety may have been compromised.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan told a press conference on Wednesday that the MTR informed the government last week that some work-related records were missing for three areas of the project-the north approach tunnel, the south approach tunnel and the Hung Hom stabling siding.

The missing records were Request for Inspection/Survey Checks (RISC) forms, Director of Highways Jimmy Chan Pai-ming told the presser.

The RISC form is “a record for confirming whether the contractor has constructed the works according to the drawings”, he said.

The government was informed by the MTR Corp. last week that as many as 40 percent of the forms had been missing for the north approach tunnel alone, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The forms are for MTR to endorse before the next construction procedure could begin.

Also, the construction method in the three places was found to have been changed without MTR’s consent.

Frank Chan said the government decided to notify the public about the latest issues despite the fact that MTR has not yet provided detailed information regarding the missing records.

He stressed that the government is committed to making every effort to ensure structural integrity and railway safety.

If MTR “is unable to secure documentation and records to demonstrate in full the construction details, then [it] would have to refer to the holistic assessment strategy, similar to the handling of the Hung Hom Station so as to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the installation, construction are in compliance with the building code, the structural safety and all the necessary safety requirements”, Frank Chan said.

Believing that MTR has inescapable responsibility for the lapse, Jimmy Chan said the government sent a letter to the railway operator and asked for a detailed account of the incident.

It also told MTR to check if such a problem also exists in other projects, and evaluate how it could impact the full or partial opening of the SCL’s Tuen Ma Line.

While the situation is not ideal, that does not mean there is an immediate structural risk for the Hung Hom Station extension works, the highways chief stressed.

The Highways Department said it did not see any act involving criminal elements while collecting information on the matter, and therefore no police report has been filed so far.

In response, MTR chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen insisted that Leighton Contractors (Asia), the entity responsible for building the underground platforms at Hung Hom Station, should be fully accountable for the missing records and documents.He said MTR was very disappointed with the missing documents and reserved the right to take further actions.

But Leong also admitted that MTR should have done a better job of ensuring the completeness of necessary documentation. He promised to enhance supervision of MTR contractors and implement improvement measures.

Lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, who represents the engineering constituency, described the latest revelation as a collapse of the quality check system, while Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong urged the government to report the matter to law enforcement authorities.

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