MTR Corporation and Hung Hom station contractors face more questions, this time over the loss of safety documents, in new round of inquiry later this month

07-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s embattled rail operator and a major contractor are slated to face further grilling this month in another round of sessions for a high-level inquiry over the loss of a pile of safety documents at the city’s most expensive railway project.

In a preliminary hearing on Monday, Ian Pennicott, counsel for the government-appointed commission of inquiry, said a formal hearing would begin later this month over new issues found at three further locations of the scandal-hit Hung Hom station extension, on the MTR Corporation’s HK$97.1 billion (US$12.3 billion) Sha Tin-Central link.

It was revealed in January that more than 60 per cent of inspection documents, known as RISC forms, pertaining to three locations at the station, were missing and that there had been unauthorised design changes. Leighton Contractors (Asia) was the main contractor on the job.

The three locations are the north and south approach tunnels and the station’s side tracks. It followed last year’s allegations of shoddy construction work on platforms and station walls.

The commission was originally expected to submit a final report to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on the safety of the platform structure in February.

But, due to the new controversies, Lam decided to expand the scope of the commission to cover the newly revealed issues at the other affected areas.

The MTR Corp, Leighton, the government and some subcontractors will be the key witnesses.

Michael Hartmann, the commission chair, said he expected to finish the final stage of expert testimony in September or October so the commission could submit a final report to the chief executive in November, rather than at the end of August as previously scheduled.

“Sometimes, a little delay results in a cleaner and firmer finish rather than it all being a little ragged,” Hartmann, a former non-permanent judge on Hong Kong’s top court, said.

In March, the commission released its interim report on the scandal of shoddy work on the station platform. Despite saying work was not executed to plan, with “isolated and sporadic incidents” of bars being shortened, it concluded the platform was safe and did not need rebuilding or strengthening.

Last month, the rail giant excavated 191 reinforcement steel bars at the station platforms, of which 39, or 20 per cent, were found to be substandard, with an embedded length shorter than the required 37mm.

The rail operator is due to submit a final analysis to the government by the end of June.


Category: Hong Kong

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