The Site is on a slope. This imposed technical challenges and additional costs for the foundation works. Gammon construction (“Gammon”) began the Foundation work in January 1996 and completed it in late July 1996.
Subsequently, it was discovered that many piles were installed out of alignment and some were missing. This led to protracted negotiations with Gammon to correct the problem and to agree upon deductions from the final account of the foundation contract for the future building contractors to correct the errors. Li Ho-kin represented CDNIS to successfully finalizing these matters.
5.4.2 Phase I
In 1996, tenders were called for construction of the superstructure and Chatwin Construction (“Chatwin”) was the successful bidder with its tender valid until August 31, 1996. The initial budget was HK0 million for work to commence at that stage.
CDNIS could not commit to the construction contract without the government’s approval of its loan.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (“HSBC”) came to CDNIS’ assistance by providing a bridging loan for up to HK0 million contingent upon confirmation of the status of the government loan. The bridging loan was set at HK0 million so as to cover both the contingency of donation/debenture funding delays and the government loan. It was necessary to cover the latter because it could not be drawn down until the building was certified as “complete”, i.e. the issue of an Occupation Permit for the building.
By the time the bridging loan was finalized, the Premises Committee had to persuade Chatwin to extend the validity period to the end of October. By then, all tender price conditions had expired and the building cost had escalated considerably.
The delay in commencing construction of the superstructure and the related escalation in construction cost had caused the necessary decision to scale back the project in order to keep it alive. The revised project became “Phase I” which, in effect, sliced one-third from the southern side of the building. It eventually cost HK0 million. The truncated project was awarded to Chatwin upon the approval of the government loan by LegCo on January 17, 1997. The work on site finally commenced in the last week of February 1997 and completed in December 1998.
5.4.3 Another Crisis
By December 31, 1998, all the bridging campuses were closed and all contents were moved to the new campus. The final legal process was that CDNIS had yet to obtain an Occupation Permit to enable its occupation of the campus by the staff and students. Through a supreme effort by all involved, CDNIS finally obtained a Temporary Occupation Permit on Saturday, January 9, 1999 to enable it to open for classes on January 11, 1999. The official Occupation Permit was finally obtained on March 14, 1999 and CDNIS was able to draw down the government interest-free loan to repay the bridging loan from HSBC.
5.4.4 Opening ceremony for Phase I
The official Opening Ceremony of Phase I was held on May 13, 1999 and was officiated by then Chief Secretary, Madam Anson Chan, and then Consul-General of Canada, Mr. Colin Russell, and attended by many distinguished guests and most parents.
5.4.5 Typhoon attack
September 16, 1999 was a day to be remembered. Typhoon York passed over Hong Kong, with the eye of the storm literally crossing over and spanking the new Phase I building. Hurricane signal no. 10 was hoisted at 6:45 a.m for the first time since 1983. Winds of up to 200 km. attacked the metal roof with uplifting forces stronger than anyone’s reasonable expectation. For 11 hours, the longest in record, signal no. 10 was in force. When it was finally over, more than half of the burgundy-colored roof was pulled off. Luckily, throughout the entire episode, no one was injured, and the structure of the building, including the Canadian-imported heavy timber was not damaged.
CDNIS had to suspend operation on the following Friday, but enthusiastic staff and teachers all returned to the campus and together with workers of Chatwin, helped clear out the debris with their own hands and arranged temporary covering to the opened parts of the roof. CDNIS quickly resumed classes on the following Monday. A new roof system was reconstructed with much stronger anchoring method by Christmas.
5.4.6 Settlement of Phase I Contract
In January 2000, 12 months after the Practical Completion date of the Phase I contract, the defects liability period expired and the architect began finalizing the final defects list and the quantity surveyor began compiling the “final account”. However, a number of persistent defects, which were seemingly impossible to be rectified, became stumbling blocks to wrapping up the contract. Up to Chinese New Year, the Premises Committee had arranged a couple of meetings with the contractor, hoping to strike a settlement agreement. These were not successful and the contractor indicated a desire to continue efforts to correct the defects.
This ‘defects process’ went on for almost another year during which a few more revised versions of final accounts were drafted and rejected. There were changes, particularly in key staff familiar with the contract, in the quantity surveyor’s firm and progress was very slow during this period. Finally, by March 2001, the Premises Committee instructed the quantity surveyor firm to nominate a new team to complete the task. By May, the last revised version of the final account was produced. The Premises Committee then started a series of discussions with the contractor, Chatwin. It was recognized that it was in CDNIS’ interest that the final account be agreed before that summer so that CDNIS could take over the task of repairing the still outstanding defects or change to alternate materials, as necessary.
The final rounds of negotiations were rather dramatic and, although the differences between the two parties were drawing closer, a settlement agreement still had not been reached. Final settlement with the contractor, which closed the last gap, was reached by mid-June, 2001.