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  • MTR subcontractor named and blamed
    Date:2018-06-08 

    In less than a day, the MTR Corp has made a U-turn and pointed to workers from a bar-bending contractor as likely to blame for cutting steel reinforcing bars shorter than specifications for new station facilities.

    The bars were being used for new facilities at Hung Hom station to accommodate the Sha Tin to Central Link, now being built.

    The MTRC's projects director, Philco Wong Nai-keung, said on radio yesterday that workers from subcontractor Fang Sheung Construction were too short in cutting bars meant to secure a new platform to walls.

    That came just 16 hours after Wong and other executives of the rail operator said they did not know who was to blame for botching the steel bar job while also revealing that checks had shown up the problem on five occasions in 2015 but not once had people higher up the responsibility chain been made aware of the problem.

    Wong said yesterday he obtained the information about who cut the bars too short from the rail operator's monitors on the project.

    "They saw some workers from Fang Sheung working," he said. "Of course, they did not actually see them cutting the steel bars. But they saw the parts that had been cut off placed at one location. There were only Fang Sheung workers there, so it was understood it was done by them."

    Wong also said the contactor's workers explained to MTR staff that the bars were cut short simply for convenience because it was difficult to screw them into couplers. He also claimed they were asked to replace the bars immediately.

    MTRC chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang also called on main contractor Leighton to explain the incident publicly as it is responsible for construction quality.

    Speaking on another radio program, MTRC chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen said it was believed there were less than 30 problematic steel bars.

    Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting said it was confusing that the MTRC changed its story in less a day, and he suspected a cover-up.

    Lam pointed out that rail executives had on Wednesday claimed not to know who cut the bars. Then yesterday they were pointing directly at Fang Sheung workers. He doubted whether the MTRC had written records and were relying on memories of frontline workers.

    He also suggested that independent experts from overseas be called to investigate.

    The chairman of the Legislative Council's railways subcommittee, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said the contractors should be called to explain what happened precisely.

    "Subpoena Leighton and the subcontractor to explain why on earth they would do such a silly thing," he said of the bar-cutting mess.

    Tien said it was important to know how to deal with contractors after faults like this one surfaced.

    And Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said that Frederick Ma's contract should not be renewed after the current one expires by the end of the year.



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