Construction company Leighton Asia is facing questions on work quality at the East Kowloon Cultural Centre, with a report alleging substandard steel bars and fasteners.

The Architectural Services Department confirmed to Ming Pao that five samples of steel bars and fasteners had unacceptable instances of “permanent elongation.” A spokesperson said that the affected batch of materials will not be used in the construction, and additional testing will be conducted.

Located in Ngau Tau Kok, the East Kowloon Cultural Centre cost HK$4.17 billion. Work commenced in 2016 and it is expected to be finished next year.

Lau Kong-wah
Lau Kong-wah.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said he was “highly concerned” about the incident.

“We are relatively concerned about whether the work will be completed on time, but even more important is the question of safety,” Lau said. “We will address this urgently along with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Architectural Services Department.”

He added that further investigation is needed before deciding whether to change suppliers.

Leighton Asia has also been involved in separate construction scandals related to the MTR Shatin to Central Link, and is facing investigation by an independent commission. It has been barred from submitting bids for government construction projects for 15 months.

The company told Ming Pao it had no comment on the issue.

East Kowloon Cultural Centre
East Kowloon Cultural Centre construction site. Photo: Wikicommons.

The supplier in question was Dextra Pacific Limited, which provided 1,500 fasteners and conducted work on steel bars. Five defective samples were found out of a test of 150, but the Architectural Services Department did not specify the extent to which they fell short.

The department said that the results from the new tests would be available next month, and it would ask for the materials to be removed if they still received a failing grade.

Dextra Pacific also had previous issues with material quality: in 2013, the Buildings Department found that 8 out of 211 samples of steel bars and fasteners were substandard at the West Kowloon terminal of the high-speed rail link. 300 fasteners were also found substandard at the Kai Tak development project last year.

Dextra Pacific also did not respond to Ming Pao’s request for comment.

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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.