Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the government was highly concerned about a case of contractors cutting corners during construction at MTR Hung Hom station. She said the government will follow up with the incident seriously.

The problem occurred in July 2015, during construction of the Sha Tin to Central Link expansion. The rail operator admitted that workers had cut steel bars to make them look as if they were correctly screwed into couplers securing a platform floor to the walls. MTRC said the problem was rectified.

Lam said the Transport and Housing Bureau has asked the MTR Corporation to submit a report as soon as possible.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

“But it is too premature for me to comment right now on what actually has happened on that particular incident,” she added. “I can assure you and assure the public, once the facts have been obtained, we will disclose the fact and tell the public if there is any remedial action.”

Asked if an independent investigation committee should be set up to regain public confidence, Lam said she wished to give MTRC some time to process the matter through its internal monitoring mechanism and let management fix the issue.

China Technology Corporation (CTC), one of the project’s contractors, said in a statement that its frontline staff discovered the fault in July 2015 and reported it to two “superintendent” level monitoring staff at Leighton, the project’s main contractor, the following month.

CTC said it had to report to higher level management at Leighton as the same situation occurred again after its report. It said it filed a written complaint to Leighton’s headquarters in January 2017.

CTC said it was warned that it has a confidential agreement with Leighton – without elaborating on who gave the warning – and cannot reveal the details of the contract. It said that, as part of its contract, the company must tell Leighton if it has been contacted by media.

Hung Hom
Hung Hom station expansion site for Sha Tin to Central Link. Photo: Screenshot.

MTRC chair Frederick Ma said the board of directors held a special meeting lasting for almost 2.5 hours on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

“We take this matter seriously,” he said, adding that the board will hold a press conference on Wednesday.

Engineer So Yiu Kwan told Apple Daily that if the steel bars are not properly attached, there is a risk that the platform floor could collapse.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.