Bureau to seek payment over bridge dispute

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 - Page 4

The National Expressway Engineering Bureau yesterday said it would terminate its contract with Hua Chi Construction for the construction of Kinmen Bridge and would seek compensation from the contractor.

The project, a 5.4km bridge connecting two large islands in the Kinmen archipelago, is scheduled to be completed by August 2016. However, another contractor who tendered a bid, RSEA Engineering, questioned the qualifications of Hua Chi, saying the firm has no experience in bridge construction. RSEA also accused Hua Chi of failing to meet the tendering requirements.

While the bureau found no flaws in the tender for the contract, the Public Construction Commission — the administrative agency in charge of enforcing the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) — has ruled that Hua Chi had broken the law.

According to the commission’s investigation, contractors interested in bidding for the Kinmen Bridge project were required to list the projects they had completed and their construction costs. A contractor would be qualified to join the bid if it can prove it had relevant experience and the construction costs for each relevant project had to be higher than two-fifths of the budget for the Kinmen Bridge project.

The commission said Hua Chi had combined two projects it had done in the past, as well as their construction costs, to meet the tendering requirements.

As a result of its investigation, the commission revoked the bureau’s ruling on the dispute.

The bureau said that its arbitration committee reviewed the case again and found that Hua Chi had put two independent projects it had done for Kao Ming Co in the paper it had presented to the bureau.

The bureau denied it had intended to cover up for Hua Chi and said that it had verified the authenticity of the document with Kao Ming, which confirmed that the document was issued by the company.

However, the bureau said it did not know that the project listed on the paper were two separate projects, until the commission checked with Kao Ming, which said it did so at the request of Hua Chi.

The bureau said it would take over the bridge project now and outsource it again to another qualified contractor, adding that it planned to complete the procedures within three months.