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ICE backs inquiry into £9.5bn rail scheme

Hung Hom station

The Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) Hong Kong branch is worried professional integrity was “compromised or traded off” in a construction scandal engulfing a £9.5bn Hong Kong rail scheme.

Past-ICE president Peter Hansford has been appointed as commissioner for the Hong Kong government-led inquiry into construction failings at Hung Hom station as part of the Shatin to Central Link rail scheme, managed by MTR Corporation.

MTR is bidding for the UK West Coast Partnership rail franchise and has expressed interest in joining a bid to run the Heathrow Southern Rail link.

The ICE has expressed concern that shoddy construction along the Shatin to Central Link could affect safety when the line opens.

“As a professional body, we are concerned about whether professional integrity has been compromised or traded off for whatever reasons,” a spokesperson told Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post.

Steel reinforcement bars found at the joints between diaphragm walls and the platform slab at Hung Hom Station were discovered to have several failings.

Workers recalled seeing threaded steel bars cut short creating a gap between the steel bar and a coupler connection, undermining the safety of the diaphragm walls and the platform slabs. Leighton Contractors (Asia) was the contractor for the project.

Poor construction work was also uncovered at To Kwa Wan and Exhibition Centre stations, where work carried out differed to designs and excavations were dug deeper than the allowable depth.

Any ICE members across the world breaking its professional code of conduct would have their membership removed, the engineering body said.

“ICE would be strongly against any construction malpractices that can hamper public safety and the integrity of a project. We trust that openness is the key to see that Hong Kong has upheld its high professional standards and conduct, which are of international repute.”

Hansford and colleagues working on the inquiry must report their findings to Hong Kong’s government within six months.

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