The government knew in July 2016 that work records for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge were being submitted late, though the news was only made public last week.
More than 14,800 Request for Inspection and Survey Checking (RISC) forms were submitted late, accounting for about 28 per cent of the total number of forms that contractually had to be submitted. The documents were in connection with the bridge’s Hong Kong Link Road – an HK$8.88 billion project launched in May 2012.
The contractor, China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited, submitted some forms as late as July 2018, two years after construction procedures were completed.
According to a document submitted by the Transport and Housing Bureau to the legislature, on-site staff of engineering consultant Ove Arup and Partners Hong Kong Limited – responsible for monitoring the works – issued a letter to the contractor in July 2016 saying that some RISC forms had not been submitted. The Highways Department was also notified as the department was sent a copy of the letter.
At a transport panel meeting on Friday at the legislature, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said the quality and safety of infrastructure must be ensured before they are opened.
“This case was about the contractor submitting the forms late. It was not a case that the forms were destroyed or lost, and it did not involve a problem of engineering quality,” Chan said.
Chan said a record of dissatisfaction will be put in the government’s performance record for China State Construction Engineering.
In July 2018, the Highways Department was informed by Ove Arup that China State Construction Engineering had failed to submit more than 10,000 RISC forms in time.
In the following month, the department separately appointed an independent consultant, PYPUN-KD & Associates Limited, to examine photos, computer records, site logs, and interview site staff members at Ove Arup.
The independent consultant concluded that Ove Arup’s staff had completed their job in monitoring the works, since they were able to submit around 20,000 photos – stored in a systematic way – within a short period of time, and they were familiar with details of the works during interviews.
Chan said the government will look into setting up a monitoring system for submission of RISC forms, and conducting spot checks.
At the meeting, Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam questioned if the independent consultant’s checks were sufficient, because they only had around 36 days to check all the RISC forms, according to the schedule provided by the government. It meant that staff at the independent consultant could only spend minutes to check each form.
“They also have to check 20,000 photos, and interview monitoring staff members, as well as other records – how can they manage?” Tam said.
Highways Department Project Manager Major Works (Special Duties) Raymond Kong said in reply that all the forms were checked. “There were five or six teams at work checking the records,” Kong said.
Lawmaker Au Nok-hin and Neo Democrats lawmaker Gary Fan both asked why the construction had continued when the RISC forms had not been submitted.
Director of Highways Jimmy Chan said in response that Ove Arup confirmed that it did check each construction procedure when it was completed, before it approved China State Construction Engineering to move on to the next procedure.