MTR Corporation orders contractors to dig up paperwork at every site along HK’s Sha Tin-Central rail link after missing forms scandal

19-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s beleaguered MTR Corporation has ordered contractors to dig up paperwork at every construction site along the Sha Tin-Central rail link, amid an escalating crisis in the city’s costliest rail project.

The Post learned that the rail giant issued the directive after it emerged that Leighton Contractors (Asia) had failed to submit more than 60 per cent of inspection documents for work at the troubled Hung Hom station.

The lapse added to the MTR Corp’s woes over shoddy construction plaguing the project and allegations of a cover-up involving work on new station platforms of the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) link.

The latest controversy over paperwork centred on three locations in the station two approach tunnels and stabling sidings, or connecting side tracks. Questions were raised over how Leighton managed to proceed without having key documents countersigned by rail supervisory staff.

Derek Zen Wei-peu, chair of listed construction firm Build King Holdings, told the Post that the MTR Corp had instructed contractors across sites along the link to hand in all required paperwork known as RISC (Request for Inspection and Survey Checks) forms. The documents are used to certify completion of each work phase.

“The MTR Corp told us that it needed to check the documents that we’ve kept. It involves every construction site for the overall rail line. Now we need to dig up all the RISC forms and submit them.

“We are still tracing the documents. We are talking about a large volume of paperwork stored in containers and it takes time,” Zen said.

Build King holds various multibillion-dollar contracts along the line, including the external works for Admiralty station. There are a total of 10 stations along the line, and authorities earlier announced plans for thorough inspections of other stops apart from Hung Hom.

Zen, who said Leighton’s missing papers case was “outrageous”, added that he did not rule out the possibility of stakeholders destroying the forms to shun liability.

The government had already reported the case to police for investigations into suspected fraud.

“It’s common if you say you can’t locate 3 to 5 per cent of paperwork as we are handling quite a large volume of documents on each construction site. But more than 60 per cent of forms missing is certainly outrageous. This situation shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

More than 60 per cent of forms missing is certainly outrageous. This situation shouldn’t have happened

Derek Zen, Build King Holdings

Zen explained that the trove of documents must have been countersigned by MTR site inspectors since the contractor could move on to the next stage of work.

“Theoretically the documents must have been signed before the pouring of concrete onto the steel structure,” he said. However, he admitted that sometimes rail staff would verbally give the go-ahead to contractors and sign forms at a later stage.

“We don’t know the reason the documents are missing, as personnel who were responsible had already left. But one of the possibilities could be that some people wanted to destroy the papers to avoid liability as several heads have rolled over the scandal. This possibility cannot be ruled out.”

Zen, also the vice-chair of Wai Kee Holdings, the parent company of Excel Concrete, responsible for the concrete supply at affected locations of Hung Hom station, said so far police had not contacted their firm for help, as their work had nothing to do with the RISC forms.

Jason Poon Chuk-hung, managing director of subcontractor China Technology Corporation and whistle-blower of an earlier scandal on the line involving shortened steel bars, also raised doubts about the MTR Corp’s claim that it never received the forms from Leighton.

I suspect someone wanted to evade criminal liability so the forms were not handed over to authorities

Jason Poon, China Technology Corporation

“I was told by several sources that Leighton had made the delayed submissions to the MTR Corp in October last year after being chased. Whether these documents were properly signed, I don’t know.

“But they are not contemporaneous records. I suspect someone wanted to evade criminal liability so the forms were not handed over to authorities,” he said.

He said despite subcontractors not being involved in the handling of RISC forms, they had took part in rounds of joint inspections with various parties from Leighton and the MTR Corp, a process before the submission of the forms for countersigning.

“For China Technology, which is the subcontractor for the South Approach Tunnel, we can affirm that all hold points had been checked by MTR inspectors,” he said.

An MTR Corp spokeswoman declined to comment, saying it was still following up on the documents while police investigations were under way.


Category: Hong Kong

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