Scandal-hit Hung Hom MTR station reinforcement bars are fine, police tests show

Scandal-hit Hung Hom MTR station reinforcement bars are fine, police tests show

Findings refute MTR Corp's own ongoing ultrasound readings

rebar.jpg

Rebars and connectors photographed during the MTR press conference on the Sha Tin to Central Link.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

Police tests of the reinforcement bar samples on the scandal-hit Hung Hom station platform showed no signs of defect. This is different to the MTR Corp’s own findings.

The news came on Tuesday, the last day of hearings of the commission of inquiry into the shoddy building work that has plagued Hong Kong’s costliest rail project, the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin-Central rail link.

Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor for the project, has been entangled in allegations that reinforcement bars were cut short to fake proper installation into couplers on a platform at the station, and that supporting walls were changed without authorisation.

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Jat Sew-tong, counsel for the MTR Corp, said police had taken four rebar samples for criminal investigation which were unscrewed from the station platform with their embedded length into their couplers being measured by a ruler. The police also took another two samples of unconnected rebars.

He said the findings showed their actual embedded lengths were between 39 mm and 40mm.

The results contradicted the ongoing ultrasound examination by the MTR, which found embedment measurements in the range of 28.79mm to 34.91mm.

Workers in uniforms and safety helmets of Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor involved in the platform scandal of Sha Tin-Central rail link.

The MTR Corp is in the process of examining at least 80 sections of two new platforms at the station to determine whether structural safety had been compromised. So far, 42 out of 121 connections were found to be defective with an embedded length below the government standard of 37mm, representing a substandard rate of 34.7 per cent.

Making his closing submissions, he concluded there were isolated incidents of rebar cutting but he dismissed any systematic and widespread cutting of rebar threads for want of concrete proof.

Given the ultrasound findings and the expert opinions, he asserted the station structure was safe for its intended purpose and use.

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Leading Counsel for the commission of inquiry Ian Pennicott also dismissed the evidence of whistle-blower Jason Poon of China Technology Corporation as unreliable, given that multiple witnesses denied having any exchanges with him over the course of events.

“They can’t all be lying. The conclusion is that Poon has made up these conversations and a lot of allegations,” he said.

However, Simon So, counsel for China Technology, insisted Poon was a credible witness as the ultrasound findings and evidence from various witnesses showed rebar cutting did occur.

“Upon hearing evidence from various parties, it is our respectful submission that there is now a mountain of iron-proof evidence to support the complaints made by the staff members of China Technology, in particular Jason Poon,” he said.

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