Structural Concerns Raised Over New Cultural Center

April 30, 2019

NewsStandOnline.Net (30-April-2019): Concerns have been raised about the structural safety of a cultural center currently under construction in Ngau Tau Kok after tests showed it has similar construction flaws found in MTR Corp.’s Shatin to Central Link (SCL) rail project.

It was learned that some of the steel bars and couplers used in the construction of the East Kowloon Cultural Centre, which the government estimates to cost HK$4.17 billion, were substandard.

The main contractor for the cultural center is Leighton Contractors (Asia), the same company responsible for building the problematic underground platforms at the Hung Hom Station of the SCL project.  The materials in question were supplied by Dextra Pacific.

According to a report by Ming Pao, five of the 150 samples of bars and couplers used in the structural columns of the cultural center failed in safety tests commissioned by the Architectural Services Department (ASD).

Specifically, the five samples did not meet the standards for “permanent elongation”, the report said.  The ASD said Dextra had supplied 1,500 couplers and conducted threading on the steel bars used for the project.

Structural Safety Concerns Raised Over New Cultural Center

The ASD said it has taken a second batch of samples for another testing and if the results, which are expected next month, show their quality is still below par, Leighton will be asked to remove all related materials from the construction site.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah expressed deep concern over the situation as reported and promised to work with the ASD and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to follow up on the case.

Asked by media if the material supplier will be replaced, Lau said a decision will be made only after the two departments get a better understanding of the situation and receive the relevant building records from the main contractor.

A civil engineer pointed out that substandard couplers and steel bars may end up causing concrete slabs to crack and bars to rust as well.  The EKCC is scheduled for completion next year.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Highways Department said MTR has confirmed the completion of the second stage of the holistic assessment conducted on the Hung Hom Station extension under the SCL project.

The assessment showed that one in five tested samples of the bars used in the construction failed in the structural tests.  The third stage of the holistic assessment strategy has been launched and is expected to be completed by the end of June.