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MTR bosses quit amid Hong Kong metro probe

Hongkongmetro

MTR’s chief executive, chairman and projects director have all resigned amid a probe into a £9.5bn metro scheme.

Chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen has announced he will be taking early retirement, while the company’s chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang has also announced that he will be leaving the rail operator. Likewise projects director Philco Wong Nai-keung has announced that he will be leaving the company. 

Three general managers in charge of the project, Lee Tsz-man, Jason Wong Chi-ching and Aidan Rooney have also left MTR.

It comes in the middle of an investigation into construction standards at the project, which the Hong Kong transport department has now referred to the police.  

A spokesperson for the transport department said: ”We can see from there that there may be some criminal cases, so we have immediately reported to the police so that they can investigate.” 

He added: ”In these circumstances, we have found that there are problems in several aspects.

”First, the information they [MTR] submitted on July 13 and the information submitted by the MTR Corporation on June 15 are inconsistent and contradictory. It is inconsistent with the design agreed by the Buildings Department because they have not submitted their changes to the Buildings Department so far.”   

In its results announcement made yesterday, MTR said it was carrying out an internal investigation and admitted that ”the platform slab at the Hung Hom Station extension contained inaccuracies in respect of the construction methodology of the top side of the platform slab”.

Hong Kong SAR chief executive Carrie Lam has called on chairman Si-hang to reconsider his resignation, claiming that he is not responsible for any failings on the project. 

“I have a look at the facts and asked my government directors on the MTR Board. They have been kept in the dark. They have performed their role in asking a lot of questions from the management, especially the project team, but they have been kept in the dark,” Lam said. 

“So despite Mr Fred Ma himself wanting to take accountability for this matter and step down, I have invited him and persuaded him to stay for a while in order to help us to undertake the various functions.” 

Last month, the Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) Hong Kong branch announced that it is worried professional integrity was “compromised or traded off” at the Hong Kong rail scheme.

ICE past 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.

A spokesperson for MTR said: “The safety and the quality of construction works are of the highest priority to the Corporation and will never be compromised.”

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

“As a professional body, we are concerned about whether professional integrity has been compromised or traded off for whatever reasons,” a ICE Hong Kong branch spokesperson said.

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. 

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