Hong Kong authorities to probe 42-storey hotel development after site found to have used steel bars meant for separate project – Earn Charter

Hong Kong authorities will investigate a 42-storey hotel development in Tsim Sha Tsui after the site was found to have used steel bars intended for a separate project.

The Buildings Department revealed the investigation on Saturday shortly after public affairs concern group Chinat Monitor alleged there were problematic construction practices in the project to redevelop the former Mariners’ Club into a hotel.

“If it is found that a person or the registered contractor has breached the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance, the Buildings Department will take follow-up actions seriously, including instigating prosecution and/or disciplinary action,” it said.

Located at 11 Middle Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the original 50-year-old building housing the club was demolished in 2018 to be redeveloped into a combined hotel and gathering place for mariners. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The department said it had told the site’s registered structural engineer to submit relevant test reports after receiving complaints about the quality of the project’s steel reinforcing bars between last September and November.

Test reports for 17 batches of reinforcing bars were found to have complied with the approved plans and regulations with “no irregularity” in their quality.

But authorities said one of the batches involving the construction of the 29th to 39th floors of the hotel were revealed to be originally intended for an industrial building project on Ta Chuen Ping Street, Kwai Chung.

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The hotel’s building professionals told the government that the bars in question had been sampled and tested in accordance with the construction standards at the Kwai Chung site, and some were delivered to and used at the Tsim Sha Tsui site.

The department said the test report alone was not sufficient in proving the bars used were the same batch that had passed the test.

It added it was considering a proposal offered by the project management to randomly open up part of the cast structure that used the bars in question, to obtain testing samples on whether they complied with approved plans and buildings regulations.

Located at 11 Middle Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the original 50-year-old building housing the club was demolished in 2018 to be redeveloped into a combined hotel and gathering place for mariners.

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Chinat Monitor, run by construction firm owner Jason Poon Chuk-hung, on Friday accused the management behind the club’s project of proceeding with work despite lacking information over the quality of reinforcing bars.

In response, the project’s main contractor, CR Construction, said on Saturday that it reserved the right to pursue legal action against “false statements” made by individuals on social media.

“Our construction and procurement of construction materials complied with the legal requirements,” it said. “We have been actively cooperating with the inquiry and working with the relevant authorities.”

Developer Empire Group added that it had instructed a registered structural engineer and the main contractor to fully cooperate with the department.

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James Lau Chi-wang, a registered structural engineer, said it was “very rare” for a project to use materials from another site despite most of the construction in Hong Kong using the same type of reinforcing bars.

“The building professionals will have to explain the situation to the Buildings Department,” he said. “It is solvable but it will obstruct the project from obtaining the occupation permit.”

In March last year, Hong Kong authorities said they were checking the structural safety of the site after a huge blaze engulfed the building before being finally put out nine hours later. The No 4 alarm blaze was the second recorded fire at the former Mariners’ Club construction site in half a year.

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