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Government downpl ays bridge repairs
The Macau Government has responded to recent reports that a safety study has revealed that the Sai Van bridge is too weak to support the planned Light Rapid-Transit (LRT) rail system and that construction tenders may not have included such extensive repair costs. A statement issued last Friday by the Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) and the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT), refuted the claims and assured the public that the bridge will only need a few adjustments.
An unidentified source was quoted recently by the Portuguese-language radio station as saying that a safety study commissioned last year by the Macau Government and carried out by Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong revealed that up to 52 of the bridge’s 96 supporting cables may need to be replaced and that the costs for the structural modifications and access arrangements will be very high. The source said the costs could amount to double the original price of its construction and range anywhere from MOP 500 million to MOP 1 billion.
‘Almost eight years since the [beginning of the] construction of the Sai Van bridge, no problems related to its structure have been encountered,’ the Government says
The GDI and GIT said in their statement that the final safety study report by Ove Arup & Partners was handed to the MSAR Government in August 2009, and was therefore included when local authorities called for proposals for the supply of rolling stock and systems for the phase one of the LRT, in mid-December.
“The cost of adjustments and improvements to the basic design of the bridge are included in the price submitted by [the three] bidders,” GDI and GIT explained in their joint statement.
The open tender for the supply of rolling stock and systems for phase one of the LRT attracted three major players: Bombardier joined China Road and Bridge Corporation to form BT CRBC LRT Consortium, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Siemens – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Consortium.
The three tenders received were all accepted, with the basic proposal lump-sum of MOP 4.5 billion, MOP 4.68 billion and MOP 6.2 billion, the less expensive from Bombardier and its Chinese partner and the highest from Siemens. However, in a different area – 5 + 5 year’s maintenance – Mitsubishi proposed MOP 792 million, less than half of the second lowest proposal.
“Following several opinions that came out in recent days about the safety of road traffic on the Sai Van bridge, the GDI and the GIT reiterates that the SAR Government has adopted an attitude of responsibility […] and will ensure the safety in the development of any public work.
“Almost eight years since the [beginning of the] construction of the Sai Van bridge, no problems related to its structure have been encountered,” the responsible cabinets said.
Chon Tit Investment and Development, a unit of state-owned CCECC, which was the main contractor for the Sai Van bridge, pointed out that the structure was built “according to technical standards for building bridges in China at that time […], corresponding to the requirements of the tender and completely satisfying the demands of loading of both highways and light rail system.”
“Regarding the steel cables, during the construction phase and after it was built, a third consultancy firm was responsible for carrying out the tests, and it was concluded that it met the requirements of the design,” Chong Tit said in the same statement.
According to a technical study by Consulasia for BT CRBC LRT Consortium, following the PRC’s engineering guidelines and standards, all of the stay cables of the bridge will have to be replaced – “In order to ensure its structural safety,” Macau Business magazine reported. Still, this option is quite different from what is recommended by Ove Arup (see article on same page).
Furthermore, in 2002, Consulasia was one of the companies in charge of the re-examination of the plan for the execution of the Sai Van bridge. Later, it also provided technical consultancy to the Infrastructure Development Office for the LRT project.
Not reacting to any comment in particular, both the Infrastructure Development Office and the Transportation Infrastructure Office say that given that several companies manufacture light rail rolling stock, “there are unique technical requirements for different types of trains.”
“In the process of building the future light rail system, it becomes necessary to coordinate with the specifications and the rolling stock that will be selected, making adjustments and improvements to the basic design of the bridge,” the Government cabinets acknowledge.
Macau’s original March deadline for bids was pushed back by a month due to the bridge issues. Tenders were received in April, and the Government will select the best-suited provider of the rolling stock and systems for the phase one of the LRT, as well as for the construction work necessary for the Sai Van bridge.
The bridge was one of the public infrastructures caught up in the corruption scandal of former secretary for Transport and Public Works, Ao Man Long. According to the court, Chon Tit manager, Chan Tong Sang, paid MOP 14 million in kickbacks for securing the construction and maintenance services.
Sai Van bridge is the third sea crossing between Macau and Taipa and it started operation on January 2005. The main bridge is about 2.2km long with total width of 28 metres, and the deck level contains dual 3-lane carriageway while emergency evacuation vehicles or small size cars during typhoon signal no. 8 hoisted use the lower deck level passage, which has two different tubes.
The Transportation Infrastructure Office plans for the first phase of the LRT to begin service in 2014 with a capacity to move 8,000 passengers per hour per direction. There will be 21 stations along 20km, beginning at the Zhuhai border in the north and ending at the Macau International Airport.
According to the tender, the winning bid should be announced by next month.
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