A lawmaker has said that the MTR Hung Hom station expansion might need to be torn down after two more steel bars were found to be substandard at the construction site.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan on Friday urged the government to consider demolishing what has been Hong Kong’s most expensive rail project to date.

Photo: Screenshot.

The HK$97.1 billion rail expansion project which connects Shatin to Central Link has been marred by a corner-cutting scandal after a series of reports exposed engineering problems.

The 17 km new line will be more expensive than the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which cost HK$86.4 billion.

The MTR Corporation promised earlier this month to dig up 80 spots in order to check the quality of work following a series of reports on mistakes.

Transport and Housing Bureau confirmed on Wednesday that three substandard steel bars had been found.

In one case, a steel bar was only screwed into its coupler by six millimetres, falling short of the required standard of 40 millimetres.

Local media reported in June that contractors had cut short steel bars at the Hung Hom station expansion, instead of correctly screwing them into the couplers connecting the platform wall and the floor.

So far, none of the five steel bars randomly selected for testing were found to be satisfactory.

“The government should not just be looking to give an explanation,” said Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan.

“It should adjust the number of sampling tests, and it needs to face reality and consider if there’s a need to tear down [the station expansion].”

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The Transport and Housing Bureau has said that, when a rebar is correctly screwed into a coupler, it should be embedded by 40 millimetres and that there should be a maximum of two “threads” exposed.

In one of the cases revealed on Friday, the steel bar was screwed into the coupler by 31.61 millimetres and had one to two exposed threads.

In the other case, the steel bar was screwed into the coupler by 6.22 millimetres and had eight to nine exposed threads.

Workers installing steel bars that were cut short to the wall of the Hung Hom station.

The MTR Corporation had previously said that the test results do not necessarily show that the steel bars were cut short.

The steel bars and couplers may show varying levels of connection, but the assembly could still be considered valid and safe, the rail operator added.

Chan said on Friday that the construction project should be torn down if it was found to be unsafe.

“Even though it is possible to do consolidation work, if in the end no one dares to take responsibility and guarantee [the project’s safety], then it should be demolished,” she said.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.