Macau LRT remains in quagmire over delays

Macau, Slider 12 Sep 2013
Macau LRT remains in quagmire over delays

GIT demands proposals to resolve month-long work stoppage

The Macau government’s troubled Light Rail Transit project looks increasingly unlikely to meet the project’s target completion date as the government remains mired in disputes with its contractors.

On Monday, Chinese language Macau Daily News and the English language Macau Business both reported Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io as saying that the government has demanded that the contractor on one of the contracts on the project submit proposals to resolve a work stoppage within a month.

The contract in question was identified as the LRT Depot contract where apparently work has stopped for over a month, according to Macau Daily News.

Lau was quoted as saying that the government could not allow work to stop for that period of time.

The Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) awarded contract C385 for the superstructure for the LRT Depot last year to a joint venture comprising of Top Builders International and Mei Cheong for a contract sum of 555.1 million MOP.

The contract period was stated as 1,014 days.

Lau said the government was in currently in talks with the contractor.

A spokesperson for one of the partners in the joint venture said “both sides are having constructive discussions on the way going forward and are hoping to resolve the differences as soon as possible”.

Last month the Macau news media reported that the LRT could be late by as much as three years with the GIT in dispute with contractors over ground conditions, the specification for concrete, imprecise control points, late handover of works areas and additional costs.

A Light Rail Transit construction site near the Venetian Macao casino resort on 29 May 2013  (Danny Chung)

A Light Rail Transit construction site near the Venetian Macao casino resort on 29 May 2013 (Danny Chung)

As an indication of the delay in the LRT, at rail line contract C350, which held its groundbreaking ceremony last February, only 4 columns out of 90 were completed as of last month.

The other rail line contracts, C360 and C370, have also seen similar snail-paced progress on the columns.

“All the contractors are being held hostage by the bonds and the potential [liquidated damages] which is in GIT’s hand. Ironically most of the delays are caused by GIT themselves. But of course as a typical government department, they would deny any responsibility,” an industry source said.

The Macau government is still insisting that phase 1 of the LRT would be completed by 2015.

But only the section covering Taipa and the Cotai reclamation is currently under construction, consisting of the three rail line contracts, the depot contract mentioned above and a contract for a transport interchange.

The remaining contracts for phase 1, that is for the section on the Macau Peninsula from Barra to Barrier Gate and over the San Van Bridge, have yet to see the light of day.

“GIT still has not decided the alignment of the Macau section yet, and therefore no tenders have been issued, meaning that even if the Taipa section is completed, the LRT still would not work,” the industry source said.

Danny Chung

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