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'Lazy' Tech Sentenced in Concrete Scandal

Monday, December 4, 2017

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One of the 19 lab workers charged in relation to the falsification of concrete test results on a Hong Kong bridge megaproject was sentenced to eight months in jail Friday (Dec. 1) after pleading guilty.

HKZMB construction
© iStock.com / Only5

A lab technician who falsified testing of concrete samples from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project will spend eight months in jail.

According to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong magistrate told Wong Kwok-yiu, a 61-year-old former lab technician with Jacobs China, that he was “wishy-washy” and risked public safety when he falsified tests of concrete samples on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, a multibillion-dollar bridge-and-tunnel project that spans three jurisdictions.

‘Embarrassing’ Mistake

Wong was charged last month by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and pleaded guilty to two charges of using false instruments; at the time of his plea, he admitted he had been “lazy” and had faked test reports to cover up an “embarrassing” mistake he had made in the testing process.

Wong reportedly tested two samples incorrectly, then replaced the results with results from high-strength concrete cubes that were not actually from the bridge project. The two instances of falsification reportedly occurred between 2012 and 2015.

A total of 18 other former Jacobs China employees were charged with a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud; they will reportedly have a chance to enter a plea Dec. 7. Jacobs China is a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Jacobs Engineering.

Project Issues, Overruns

The HKZM project involves an 18.3-mile bridge and a 4-mile stretch of tunnel running 131 feet below the Pearl River Delta. Work has been ongoing since 2011, and the cost has repeatedly risen during construction.

Last month, reports surfaced indicating that the Hong Kong portion of the project was facing cost overruns of more than HK$11 billion (about $1.4 billion). The costs of the Zhuhai and Macao parts of the project are not known.

Earlier this year, authorities disclosed that in 2014, two seawalls that were built as part of the project collapsed and had to be rebuilt. The South China Morning Post reports that 10 workers have died during the project’s construction, and more than 600 have been injured.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; concrete; Criminal acts; Ethics; Laws and litigation; Quality control

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