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HK urged to put quality above construction price

HONG KONG public works officials last week came under pressure to put greater emphasis on quality when awarding design and construction contracts.

The call is among 109 recommendations contained in a 206 page report, Construct for Excellence, published last week by a government-appointed 16member committee led by executive councillor Henry Tang and including Mott Connell managing director Robin Whalley.

The report is widely seen as Hong Kong's answer to the UK's Latham and Egan initiatives. The Tang group was created last April to review the construction industry following a raft of scandals involving corruption, shoddy piling and poor quality construction.

The nine month study said the Works Bureau, which currently oversees the seven works departments including highways, drainage, architectural services and water supplies, should become more heavily involved with running them.

This would end inter-departmental disputes and lead to better co-ordination.

The Tang group also recommended that a separate co-ordinating body 'should be set up by the industry, for the industry, to deliberate and generate consensus among its members on strategic issues''.

The report urges the government to review its current bid assessment criteria, which focuses on lowest price, when awarding design consultancies and construction contracts.

This follows widespread concern within government that quality had been sacrificed in favour of lowest price.

The report recommends that the marking of bids for public works consultancy contracts should reflect all quality aspects critical to a project.

At the same time clients, including private developers, should be prepared to reject exceptionally low bids which have not taken full account of the risks involved.

The report also calls on the government to reconsider its rejection of demands that it accept unforseen ground risk (NCE 16 November last year).

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