Hong Kong’s anti-graft body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), arrested 21 people over allegedly falsified lab results for materials used to build the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
Those detained include two senior executives, 14 laboratory technicians, and five laboratory assistants of an unidentified contractor working for the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD).
The contractor had been hired in January 2013 to test the compressive strength of concrete that would be used to construct the bridge. Each sample was to be tested within a specified time frame and required to be of a certain strength.
However, the ICAC claims that its investigation revealed that lab technicians may have falsified the tests by replacing the concrete with other materials like a metal calibration cylinder or high-strength concrete, which is alarming to say the least.
According to a statement from the ICAC, some tests were believed to have been conducted outside of their specified time frames, then made to appear as if they were legitimate by onsite lab techicians and assistants.
This behavior is suspected to have begun in early 2015.
When the CEDD initially detected the irregularities, the contractor conducted an internal investigation into the matter but failed to disclose that the testing materials had been substituted. The CEDD then filed a complaint with the ICAC, which launched Operation “Greenfield” last Tuesday to investigate the matter.
All arrestees have since been released on bail. In light of the investigation, Development Secretary Eric Ma said the government would examine the bridge to see if there were any structural issues as a result of the contractor’s actions.
The bridge, which has been under construction for six years, is estimated to open by the end of the year and will connect Hong Kong with fellow SAR Macau and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. In that time, it has been subject to controversy for cost overruns — it is often dubbed a “White Elephant” project by opposers — delays, and accidents which claimed the lives of eight people and injured more.
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