30 October, 2015
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Uses Poor Quality Materials
More scandals about Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (the Bridge)! An engineer, whom refused to be named, told Apple Daily that a large amount of steel-reinforced bricks were used to build the Bridge’s pier which damaged the safety and durability of the Bridge. One of the suppliers of these steel-reinforced bricks admitted that the company had to source a new load of bricks in April as they found the quality of the bricks was bad. Highways Department responded to Apple Daily’s enquiry and said that there has been no report on any problem with the positioning bricks and steel bars used in the Bridge, and the construction progress is not affect even though the project will not be completed by end of 2016 as originally scheduled.
The informer said that unqualified steel-reinforced bricks were used at contract No. HK/2011/09 of the Bridge. The contractor of this section is Dragages-China Harbour-VSL Joint Venture and the section’s contract is HK$12.9 billion. Steel-reinforced bricks are used to support and secure the position of steel bars to prevent them from moving when casting concrete. The bricks also help prevent steel bars from erosion.
Mr Au from China Glass Fibre Moulding Company, one of the steel-reinforced bricks manufactures in Hong Kong, confirmed that the contractor of the Bridge’s project mentioned above called him in April for emergency help. Mr Au recalled his conversation with the contractor, “when he was building the first bridge pier, all the steel bars were put in place but he could hear some (abnormal) cracking sound. He said he couldn’t sleep that night. The morning after that, he called and asked me to send him the (steel-reinforced) bricks.”
Au said that the contractor never bought any bricks from CGFM, and he thinks that the sudden change of supplier could be due to the quality of the original stock the contractor purchased. “Only when he worried about bad thing is going to happen, he contacted me. He knew all along that the quality of the bricks he got was not good enough!” When approached by Apple Daily, the contractor refused to name the supplier who provided the original stock and declined to comment on why he changed the supplier at the very last minute.
Highways Department said the contractor is responsible for the construction of the beam of the bridge pier and part of the bridge pier projects in the sea. The spokesperson from HD also said that the contractor had been using CGFM since February 2014 and stressed that the contractor never changed supplier and did purchase sufficient amount of steel-reinforced bricks ahead of time.
However, Mr Au from CGFM said that the contractor only bought the bricks from him in April and asked him to write two invoices of 9,000 pieces of steel-reinforced bricks each dated back two months. “They started the construction in January, but before we send the our order in April to them, they never ordered a single piece of brick from us.” Due to the need of the project, the contractor also purchased bricks of different shapes and sizes from two other manufacturers.
Civil engineer and structural engineer Simon So Yiu-kwan said, due to the high air void ratio in poor quality steel-reinforced bricks, if low quality bricks are used, the risk of steel bars being exposed to water vapour is much higher. If steel bars are eroded, they will expand and push outward causing the concrete to crack. He also said that it can be fixed before casting concrete, but once this step is completed there is no mean to fix the problem