CONTRACTORS bidding for work on Hong Kong's £2.4 billion West Rail project have clashed with the client, the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation, after failing to have the tender deadline extended on three contracts.
Relations are already fraught as the corporation presses ahead with its tight programme of tendering on the first phase.
The situation was exacerbated by the corporation's decision to ask contractors to submit extra design details in the final stages of their bid preparation period.
The firms bidding for civil contracts 203, 212 and 213, worth a total £336 million, include Amec, Laing and Kier.
Disputes over contracts 203 and 213 were resolved before the June 4 deadline, but some contractors are believed to have struggled to return all the documentation for contract 212.
One bidder said: 'You are talking about individual contracts worth millions, and quite frankly we were not happy to take a flyer on quotes for jobs of this size.
'I suspect contractors have submitted a wide spread of prices, this will reflect the lack of time to consider the quotes properly.
'If you want decent competitive bids you have to give contractors more time.'
As the deadline approached, frustrated bidders turned to both the Hong Kong Construction Association and Ronald Arculli, a local legislator who represents the construction sector, for help.
But appeals by the association and Mr Arculli to the corporation chairman, Ky Yeung, were unsuccessful.
The West Rail is a 30.3 km rail line linking Hong Kong's northwest New Territories to the urban districts. When the project is complete it will allow easier access to mainland China.
Upon completion, the rail link will have nine stations and a depot.
All civil works are scheduled for completion by February 2002, with the operational date planned for October 2003.