Hong Kong pro-democratic legislators accused their government of releasing misleading figures about the number of occupational fatalities linked to the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported yesterday.
A document the Labour Department has submitted to the Hong Kong Legislative Assembly details a total of five deaths and 235 injuries since the commencement of work on the bridge in 2011 until the third quarter of 2016.
Nathan Law, a Hong Kong legislator, alleged that the data the government department provided is not accurate during a Finance Committee meeting on Friday.
In particular, he questioned the single death that the Department reported in 2014, saying the information does not match with the four deaths previously reported by media outlets.
On behalf of the department, Commissioner Carlson Chan Ka-shun explained that the numbers cover only the accidents that took place on land or on segments of the bridge defined as ‘industrial accidents’ – excluding those that occurred in the sea or in boats, which, according to him, are a matter for the Marine Department.
“You are building a bridge over the water, how can you not include accidents that occurred in the sea?” Mr. Law queried.
Meanwhile, ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung, another Hong Kong legislator, remarked that the report is “ridiculous”.
The management of the 42-kilometre long bridge, slated to open at the end of this year at an estimated cost of RMB60 billion (MOP69.58 billion/US$8.69 billion) to date, has been slammed for delays and repeated overspending as well as poor safety standards.
In different reports earlier this year, South China Morning Post (SCMP) claimed that at least 10 fatalities had been recorded since the launch of the project, while the number of injuries could reach 600.
As at February 10, 2017 the governments of Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai have shouldered RMB38 billion to finance the project, representing 42 per cent of total estimated costs. The remaining 58 per cent, or about RMB22 billion, came from bank loans provided by the Bank of China, which will be repaid from revenue generated once the bridge is operational.
According to recent reports, the Macau SAR Government has poured RMB1.98 billion into the construction of the main section of the super bridge, although the total amount for the overrun is still under analysis.