Key part of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project due for completion in early 2016
A key part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, the reclamation of an artificial island for the Boundary Crossing Facilities will be finished on time, the government has insisted.
In response to enquiries by Construction Post regarding suggestions that the artificial island off Hong Kong International Airport was running behind schedule, a spokesperson for Highways Department said work started in late November 2011 and would be completed in early 2016.
“According to the current works progress, we expect the first piece of land of the artificial island will be formed in mid-2014 to enable the construction of the Passenger Clearance Building to commence immediately afterwards,” the spokesperson said.
“Thereafter, other portions of the land of the artificial island will be formed progressively to meet the programme of the remaining works of the superstructures as well as the southern landfall of the [Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link].”
Last month Construction Post reported that late work on the reclamation was delaying award of the Northern Connection contract for the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link project.
One company boss at a listed contractor, having noted actual progress to what it itself had planned during tendering in 2011 for the contract, could only come to one conclusion.
“I only see a little part [reclaimed] so it should be late by quite an extent,” the boss said.
A source in the insurance industry also agreed, saying: “I think it’s going to be very late.”
“I flew in back from somewhere recently and I looked down and thought, there’s nothing to see,” he said.
Construction Post visited the area near the Asia World-Expo last week to observe progress and found that while there were a lot of the contractor’s barges and equipment in the sea, not much reclaimed land could be seen apart from a few parts that appeared above the water.
The reclamation works consist of construction of a seawall structure including installing stone columns to strengthen the seawall foundation and installing steel cells to form part of the sea wall with sand fill to be placed in the reclamation area.
“At present, these works are mainly carried out below seawater and are not quite visible on site. Up to mid-July 2013, the works are about 30 percent completed,” the government spokesperson said.
The insurance source said a serious industrial accident last year did not help progress.
“That apparently caused quite a delay,” the source said.
On 25 October last year, one worker was killed and 14 others injured, three of them seriously, when a temporary platform in one of the huge 30 metre diameter steel cells suddenly collapsed.
On 17 January this year, Labour Department revoked a suspension notice served on the main contractor and its subcontractors after a safety improvement plan had been implemented.
The insurance source noted the insurers had some reservations about the method of reclamation when the main contractor was looking for insurance cover for the project.
China Harbour Engineering Company won the contract worth HK$6.99 billion in November 2011.
According to the tender notice issued in February 2011, the contractor would have 52 months to complete the works.
Contractors were also required to secure adequate sources of sand fill and steel before tendering.
According to a paper submitted by the Transport and Housing Bureau to the Public Works Subcommittee of the Legislative Council in November 2011, a new method of reclamation involving no dredging would be used to reclaim about 150 hectares of land for both the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities and southern landfall.
By using interlocked large diameter steel cells as part of the seawall in the new method, the amount of marine mud to be dredged could be reduced by 97 percent while the backfilling material could be cut by half when compared with the dredge reclamation method.
“I’m no engineer, but they were using a construction method that’s not a prototype but it’s not common,” the insurance source said, adding that the method had only ever been used previously in Japan.
The bureau’s paper said the artificial island would mark the first time that the new method would be used in Hong Kong.
Regarding extension of time and monetary claims by the contractor, the government spokesperson said no details could be provided due to confidentiality provisions in the contract.
Asked if the award of the Northern Connection contract for the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link would be linked to the progress of the reclamation of the artificial island, the spokesperson said the tendering process was progressing as per the planned delivery schedule.
“The contract is now under tendering stage and we cannot disclose any information of the tender concerned,” the spokesperson said.