Who will be to blame if a bridge collapses?

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, August 1st, 2016 - 93 comments
Categories: accountability, national - Tags: , ,

National’s deregulation of the building sector prepared the field for the multi-billion dollar leaky homes crisis. From which they have learnt – nothing. Govt won’t investigate weak steel

The government is downplaying the importation of hundreds of tonnes of weak Chinese steel is a one-off and it will not be investigating.

Testing has revealed steel tubes from China for use on four bridges along the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway did not comply with standards for structural steel.

Two of the four bridges on the new $450 million Huntly Bypass have had to be reinforced with concrete, and the contractors have asked the distributer,Steel & Tube, for replacement tube piles for the two others.

Labour Party building and housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling for an urgent stocktake of steel imports, steel to ensure public safety, given the steel was being used on major construction projects.

New Zealand First transport spokesperson Denis O’Rourke questioned how the minister could be sure the weak steel was a one-off.

“That alone justifies a much wider investigation. If that steel was imported and was inadequate then it’s likely to have been used elsewhere as well. “

The agency was not asking which manufacturer the steel was from nor telling the contractors to use a different supplier or manufacturer.

Who will be to blame if untested, undetected, weak steel causes the collapse of a structure? I suggest the ministers of the current National government, starting with Simon Bridges.

93 comments on “Who will be to blame if a bridge collapses?”

  1. shorts 1

    finding a scape goat is all well and good if the steel fails – let us hope this never happens

    I wonder if anything has been done to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Or am I being far too optimistic as repeating the same stupid mistakes really does seem to be the kiwi way

  2. Sabine 2

    if the bridge falls down,
    if the houses collapse on people
    if the tunnel collapses

    it will be an act of God, none could have known and no insurance needs to pay out.

    thus is the way of the free market

    • whispering kate 2.1

      Thanks Sabine, I also have been thinking of all the new homes which have steel framing instead of timber. How will these stand up to very high winds/tornadoes which we seem to be getting much more these days. Also that slow death which is rust, will it end up like borer in the old days which weakened timber. Its horrific to think that Simon Bridges is not even investigating or making any effort to sort out the defect junk before it is included in our large infrastructure on our highways and tall buildings. Gutless wonders the lot of them, too frightened to irritate the Chinese. Its an embarrassment these days to even watch them waffling and lying on TV when they decide to give us their time. People’s lives mean nothing to this Government or for a fact, these past thirty years. Money is now our religion and fix.

      • Sabine 2.1.1

        Simon Bridges is not paid to do anything. He is paid to be there without any effect and he knows it.

        When history will judge him and his mates, they will have moved on to other shores.

        In other news, i have found a wee house on the country side for the price of a window frame in AKL and bought it. 1947 build, one owner. I have more confidence in this little house near no where then anything build after 1990 in NZ. Native timber, can’t beat it. Pretty and it lasts.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Congratulations on the setting up of an escape from Auckland.

          • Sabine 2.1.1.1.1

            i never needed to escape from Auckland. I never intended to buy in AKL in the first place.
            I know why i am in Auckland, it suits my purposes, and being German i have no issues renting.
            Heck the only reason i bought in the first place is because i am over leaking roofs, rotting window frames, doors that don’t close, hundred year old carpet and other such shitty things commonly found in NZ rental properties.
            If rental properties in NZ were in any way comparable to rental properties in France, Germany, Italy, any of the Nordic Countries, Holland, or many of the eastern Countries i would not have to buy in the first place.

            Which, btw in my books is the main reasons for people to buy a house in the first place.
            It would make more sense in NZ to rent a motel room for 5 years then a property so that someone does not have to pay the mortgage they got themselves into. At least with the Motel Unit someone would come and fix the darn roof when it gets blown of.

            • Garibaldi 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Sabine New Zealand’s solutions and applications to so many situations have always been to do the cheap and nasty. We seem to have a penchant for starting out with grand ideals and schemes and then ,several committees later, settle on the lowest common denominator for financial reasons.

              • Draco T Bastard

                New Zealand’s solutions and applications to so many situations have always been to do the cheap and nasty.

                Yep and then we wonder why we don’t have any money. The money, of course, goes on trying to fix the cheap and nasty job that was done in the first place and we do the fix cheap as well ensuring that we continue getting the same problems.

                Examples:
                Trains from China.
                AT now deciding not to build full rail to the airport and going for light rail that’s only capable of transporting passengers. Of course, this will leave the freight from the airport still on the roads causing huge amounts of damage that’s going to cost huge amounts to fix.

            • save nz 2.1.1.1.1.2

              @ Sabine, congratulations on your purchase. But you realise it means you have been culturally assimilated kicking and screaming into the Kiwi way of life. The bank overlord rather than the landlord. But personally think you will not regret it.

              • Sabine

                actually, i have been saving. I know, a funny concept. But i am one of those car less, tv less, small flat dwelling, non consuming people.
                my mortgage is tiny and will be paid of in something like 5 years. The house is tiny, and it will stay tiny. I bought it because a, it was old – good bones, b. tiny, c. huge garden with many trees that are fruit bearing. I might say i bought a garden rather then a house, as i could live very well in a caravan – done that for many many years.
                So the bank still does not own me. It is about priorities. When i am dead the house and land will be gifted back to the original owners as I have no children so have no reason to accumulate wealth and such.

                • save nz

                  Good on you. I’m an advocate for building tiny too. In my view a more environmental way to be surrounded with some sort of nature where other life can live and you can live off, rather than the 200 – 400 meter square two car garage abodes that are currently supposed to be ‘saving’ Auckland and expensively built high rise apartments with no gardens for the future generations.

                • Leftie

                  That is so awesome. Excellent choice. Congratulations Sabine, I am so happy for you!!!

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1.3

              At least with the Motel Unit someone would come and fix the darn roof when it gets blown of.

              Yeah, I wouldn’t really count on that either.

              Most NZ business people are in it for the money and don’t give a shit about providing the service. IMO, It’s the main reason why NZ managers are pretty much the worst in the developed world.

              I do a lot of shopping offshore and the difference in the levels of service is significant.

      • mauī 2.1.2

        For me, the steel framing used in housing is a clear sign of just how stupid our industries have become. Its a blatant waste of resources in a finite world where the environment doesnt appear to exist. I also wonder how it will go in the long run. The customer is just as much to blame though for buying into this crap.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Usually the below strength steel for a bridge will ‘sag more’ rather than collapse in normal use.
    Whats worrying is the steel in new factories and quite a lot in new houses, especially if they are more than one story.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Yip. Structures like this are very over-engineered for what they’re truly required to do. I suspect that if the concrete weren’t added, the bridge would still be fine.

      It might mean that the bridge perhaps has a useful life of 120 years instead of 150, or that it will suffer more damage during an earthquake than it otherwise would.

      But the chances of any of these structures actually collapsing during out lifetime – *solely* because of the weaker steel – is very remote.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Don’t know if that’s very reassuring really as civil engineering structures tend to fail due to a combination of causes.

        Now those bridges might fail in a magnitude 7 earthquake instead of the magnitude 8 that they were designed for (as an example).

        • dukeofurl 3.1.1.1

          The indications are they were steel piles for deep foundations for the bridge supports. Stuff in the ground acts differently during earthquakes than multistory buildings or even big steel frame warehouses.
          This was shown in Christchurch earthquake in the epicentre and location of the extra-ordinary high ‘ground accelerations’ was very close to the lytteleton tunnels, neither of which were affected at all. Its a different type of structure so you cant make too many comparisons.

          • weka 3.1.1.1.1

            Does that mean we can lower the standard for steel in those applications?

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Apparently this is what they are pointing to: the lower performing than specified steel is not a real problem. (Which I do not believe for a sec)

              • dukeofurl

                Its worth remembering on a different bridge project, dodgy concrete was supplied Fletchers

                • Colonial Viper

                  All we need now is a combo of dodgy concrete and dodgy steel going into a bridge project.

                  Let’s roll the dice a few times and see if it happens.

              • Lanthanide

                “Apparently this is what they are pointing to: the lower performing than specified steel is not a real problem.”

                Assuming everything else is to spec, then it is unlikely the steel will be a problem.

                The whole reason these things are over-engineered and designed with lots of compensation is built in, is to protect against these sorts of failures.

                • Colonial Viper

                  You’re being a bit blase about the eating up of safety margins, arent you? Sure you may tolerate it as a ‘once off’ (after re-evaluating each and every application the material was used in to double check) but if sub par steel is going to be a probability from now on, civil engineers will have to make allowances for that as an additional risk factor not previously considered, and up engineer their designs further.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Sure, I don’t disagree. I’m just pointing out that this article is overly alarmist – these bridges are very unlikely to collapse in the lifetime of any sitting MP, and probably not their children’s either.

                    • dukeofurl

                      They added additional concrete to ensure the design with weaker steel was satisfactory. They could do this since the steel was designed to be used as hollow piles for the bridge supports. They are now concrete filled piles ( which is the most common method anyway)

                • jcuknz

                  Years ago I had an American pen freind who originally came from S Africa and while he earnt his money in the states he spent it travelling around the world [ got caught in the Wahine disaster while visiting NZ ] and his comment was that a major problem in the States was designers building to required strengths without adequate safety factors/margins.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Assuming everything else is to spec, then it is unlikely the steel will be a problem.

                  That would probably be true if a few pieces of the steel were below spec but probably not true if all of it was below spec.

  4. Sabine 4

    and of course we must assure the well being of the Chinese Steel Worker lest they rise up and cause unrest.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-25/china-warns-social-stability-threatened-400000-steel-workers-are-about-lose-their-jo

    “In late September, we were stunned to read (and report) that in the first mega-layoff in recent Chinese history, the Harbin-based Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group, or Longmay Group for short, the biggest met coal miner in northeast China had taken a page straight out of Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg’s playbook and fired 100,000 workers overnight, 40% of its entire 240,000 workforce.

    For us this was the sign that China’s long awaited “hard landing” had finally arrived, because as China’s paper of record, China Daily, added then: “now, many migrant workers struggle to find their footing in a downshifting economy. As factories run out of money and construction projects turn idle across China, there has been a rise in the last thing Beijing wants to see: unrest.”

    Oh dear………nuthing can be done, nuthing i says.

    • adam 4.1

      Unrest, too late for China, it’s on!

      http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/show_news.pl?country=China

      Great list of books about the current struggles.

      http://www.gongchao.org/en/frontpage

      Let me just add well worth a read

      http://www.clb.org.hk/

      From the clb website a map of latest industrial actions in China.

      http://maps.clb.org.hk/strikes/en

      Don’t blame Chinese workers, Blame the west wanting cheap goods. And most of all blame a corrupt CCP and equally corrupt PLA as they are generally the ones behind all the crud.

      • Sabine 4.1.1

        actually i blame both.

        I blame corrupt politicians on both sides of the isle for telling people that they can have all the crap for cheap in the world if we just overlook slave working conditions.
        I blame corrupt politicians on both sides of the isle for telling people that nothing can be done about crap for cheap produced by slave labour and that we can’t build stuff here anymore cause lack of skills, know how, training, facilities etc etc.
        and i blame the people for swallowing all that bullshit and repeating the Nuthing can be done mantra as if it were to provide absolution to them.

        Maybe we the people should just stop buying cheap shit for a started and then vote for people that want to make stuff instead of buying cheap shit from overseas cause cheap?

        • adam 4.1.1.1

          I agree, the traditional left and right have been as bad as each other.

          This continued turning away from what is happening in China has been plague on all our houses.

          I’d like to see us produce goods again. If for no other reason, we may have no choice very soon.

          We have produced some fine goods in this country, just look at the second hand price of many NZ made products on trademe.

          At present, only the greens and nz1st seems to be saying this, or anything close to what you are saying Sabine.

  5. Ralf Crown 5

    Try to get your head around this once and for all. There is no such thing as “weak Chinese steel”. This is just another well calculated slur on China that in the end may cost us our entire welfare as people in China is getting sick and tired of the constant mud slinging and Kiwi lies. Steel come in different qualities and standard, some is cheap and not very strong, other is strong and cost more. The problem is the beancounter culture in New Zealand coupled with the lack of engineering skills and standard. The beancounters just want to buy cheap, and that is what they get for cheap money. Eliminate the accountant and lawyer disastrous culture and get an engineering culture in its place, easier said than done, but it is a survival move.

    • Sabine 5.1

      so the US, OZ, England, India and all the other places in the world that have been ringing the alarm bells for a while now are only doing so because they have no engineering skills and standard, and are beholden to a bean counter accountant and lawyer disastrous culture.
      It has nothing to do with China producing crap steel, marketing it at good steel, falsifying certificates and flooding the world markets with said superior steel.

      Maybe they should just stop supplying the world with their cheap crap inferior product for a few years. That would teach us ey? 🙂

      http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4354198.htm

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/05/opinion/the-price-of-made-in-china.html

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/11762086/Warning-Chinese-steel-imports-could-be-safety-threat.html

      https://www.pgurus.com/china-concerned-indian-trade-remedy-measures-chinese-steel-products/

      or maybe it just has got something to do with China agressivly dumping their crap steel so as to not fuck up the Steel Workers any further in this economy of weakend demand. After all there are only so many Ghost Cities China can possibly build before it has to admit that its economy is as dead as the economy of any other country.

      But yes…..here have a tissue to wipe the Dragons tears. Also a round of pity.

      • Ralf Crown 5.1.1

        You got to learn how to separate political propaganda to engineering facts. China is producing cheap steel, as is all other countries, and that cheap steel is intended to be used where superior strength is not needed. New Zealand buys the cheat steel and uses it for what it never was designed for.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      How can certification be trusted where there is no rule of law?

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        Plenty of rule of law in China…but like most cowboy capitalist countries their commercial culture is cut throat and leaves few protections for the gullible and the greedy

      • Ralf Crown 5.2.2

        This has nothing to do with “rule of law” and nothing to do with any certificates. Normal is that the purchaser orders steel to a certain quality and strength, then the purchaser conducts test to check that the product meets the standards as ordered. This is not anything different from anything purchased. Kiwis are just too thick and incompetent to get it done. The pay cheap – they get cheap, then they moan and whine.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.2.1

          The contract didn’t mention the grade of the steel? Forgive me if I don’t take your word for it 🙄

    • dukeofurl 5.3

      Yes was it a slur too that the chinese locos were full of asbestos when they were contracted to be asbestos free.
      Overall the chinese can make good stuff, just dont believe that they will tell you the truth about how good it is.

      • Ralf Crown 5.3.1

        Chinese make bad stuff and good stuff. You want the bad stuff, just pay cheap. One of my friends were recently to buy a new car, she wanted a safe car. I suggested a Honda. It had high marks in the EU crash tests. She bought a Qoros, 100% Chinese made. You can buy a car for $6,000 in China and you get what you pay for, a Honda sets you back $18,000, the Qoros cost her $20,000. Guess of my surprise when I found that the Qoros came out better than Mercede4s and BMW in the EU crash tests, I test drove it, and it was better that both Mercedes and BMW, which both cost about $60,000. Stupid beancounter Kiwis want to buy the $6,000 product and have the $60,000 delivered. It does not work that way.

    • save nz 5.4

      @ Ralf you still have not explained how the steel seems to come with fake safety certificates.

      As for qualifications of engineers – NZ used to be a leader in education of scientists and engineers. Maybe the neoliberal model of having tertiary institutes be so underfunded they need to reply more on foreign students fees than the worry about the degrees they are giving out has lowered the standards.

      But do agree contracts under National seem more interested in the cheapest cost of the contracts even if they are unsafe, rather than the quality and overall value of the bridges.

      • Ralf Crown 5.4.1

        There is no such thing as “safety certificates”, it does not exist. Steel is tested for its properties, that vary with quality and price, and that test is normally done by the purchaser as it is a simple exercise. New Zealand does not even have the competence and willingness to do just that.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.4.1.1

          You agree to sell me some steel with (say) a 690 strength grade, and after you deliver it I have to test it to make sure you didn’t supply 355.

          Why on Earth wouldn’t I just hire someone honest and reliable instead?

          • Ralf Crown 5.4.1.1.1

            Pretty normal procedure, you buy something you check that it matches what you pay for, or do you buy clothes or shoes without even trying it, or buy a second hand car without a test drive. “Honest and reliable”, obviously you never heard of the melamine disaster, the 1080 poisoning, the botulism scare, the fertilizer and baby food contamination, etc. Yes – the Chinese is getting to understand that it is better to deal with someone “honest and reliable instead”. The same goes for the steel purchases. Kiwis buy cheap, but want expensive to be delivered. Better to deal with someone “honest and reliable instead”.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.4.1.1.1.1

              You know the sum total of absolutely nothing about the contract in this case; your assertions about cheap are irrelevant.

              I note that the melamine disaster was because someone substituted one product for another hoping no-one would notice. I note where this happened.

              I was in a local timber store the other day. Another customer enquired about marine-grade ply. Part of the proprietor’s reply was “if it’s from France, it’s marine grade. If it’s from China, it is what it is”.

              That’s what happens when you sell people shit and tell them it’s chocolate: they notice, and stop buying it from you.

              Then you get your daddy, who is in the party, to apply political pressure. That’s how it works, right?

          • jcuknz 5.4.1.1.2

            Why do we not just make it at Glenbrook [?] … cost a bit more … but it is just money going around in NZ.

      • Ralf Crown 5.4.2

        New Zealand has never been any “leader in education of scientists and engineers”. A qualified engineer in New Zealand is those who run guillotines and do welding in the workshop. Most people in New Zealand who call themselves ‘engineers” do not even have qualifications enough to be admitted to an engineering school overseas.

    • Stuart Munro 5.5

      Right – so the certificates forged themselves…

    • Draco T Bastard 5.6

      There is no such thing as “weak Chinese steel”.

      Yes there is. We’ve got the testing to prove it. What there isn’t anything of is truth coming from you.

      This is just another well calculated slur on China that in the end may cost us our entire welfare as people in China is getting sick and tired of the constant mud slinging and Kiwi lies.

      It’s not Kiwis that are lying – well, that bunch in government are of course – but the facts are quite clear.

      And that means that if the Chinese are getting sick of the truth then maybe they should up their game a bit. Isn’t that the point of the market? Substandard stuff doesn’t get bought and the firm goes broke.

      The problem is the beancounter culture in New Zealand coupled with the lack of engineering skills and standard.

      We actually have those. Glenbrook Steel has been making some of the finest steel in the world for some decades now.

      The problem isn’t the capability or even the skills but, as you point out, the desire by NZers to do everything cheap which has been fostered by the RWNJs for the last thirty years. This desire is reinforced by our delusional financial system that says that a Chinese worker is costs less than a NZ worker despite the simple fact that a Chinese worker requires exactly the same amount of support as a NZ worker.

      It is physically impossible to produce anything in China cheaper than it is to produce here in NZ. Economies of scale don’t make it any cheaper either although higher productivity would – if they had such but they don’t. In fact, China actually has far less productivity than we do so, physically, China is more expensive.

      • Ralf Crown 5.6.1

        No – there is nothing as “weak Chinese steel”, these is steel of many different qualities, weaker and stronger, and all kinds come from China as well as from other sources as New Zealand. The Chinese has up their game, and are now among the leader in engineering in the world, while New Zealand is sliding down the slipper slope. If Glenbrook steel is the best in the world, why did the beancounters not buy it. Could it be that they wanted something cheap. Probably. The scale of production is actually impacting on the production costs, and the scale in New Zealand is small internationally, so New Zealand must place itself in the top end of quality, and it often does. There is nothing as “the finest steel in the world”, just different qualities and price.

        • Macro 5.6.1.1

          ” If Glenbrook steel is the best in the world, why did the beancounters not buy it. Could it be that they wanted something cheap.”
          Of course they did – that’s why they are bean counters.
          You just answered your own question.
          However in their “defence” – the steel was supposed to be fit for purpose – but has proven not to be. This isn’t the first instance of supposedly fit for purpose Chinese products proving to be faulty.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.7

      You’re a China Fanboi aren’t you?

      You’ve come into this thread and spread lies throughout it all in defence of China and their corrupt practices of supplying shoddy steel when contracted to provide good steel that met a predetermined high quality standard.

  6. mary_a 6

    WHEN a structure collapses (not IF) as a result of the inferior steel from China, I can guarantee there won’t be any accountability whatsoever from the present incompetent incumbents!

    “It wasn’t my fault …”
    “I wasn’t aware of the problem …”
    “Labour knew about the issue, but didn’t tell us …”
    “Blah blah blah ….”

    • save nz 6.1

      It will be Labour’s fault because they bought in the FTA with China. Sarc.

      • Sabine 6.1.1

        it will be labours fault sine 1916 when they formed. Its been labours fault ever since. 🙂

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.2

        The FTA was brought in by Labour to advantage NZ dairy farmers and other hort/ag, not to advantage NZ steel makers and train makers. And that’s the way it has panned out.

        • Sabine 6.1.2.1

          I know, its been Labours fault since 1916.

          Luckily none of the other parties in NZ are to blame for anything…..ey?

          • adam 6.1.2.1.1

            Are you say as national formed out of the need for a collective opposition to labour, so once again it is labour’s fault?

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            (tongue firmly in cheek)

            • Sabine 6.1.2.1.1.1

              everything ….adam….like adam and eve…..are responsible for everything ever since 🙂

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1.1.2

              Are you say as national formed out of the need for a collective opposition to labour, so once again it is labour’s fault?

              Hah!

              • Sabine

                but of course it is dear.

                its all labours fault.
                heck if we had a time machine we could travel back and make sure Labour never were created. New Zealand would be so much a purer place, like 100% pure n stuff.

                • Macro

                  Actually it is bloody Labours fault in this instance – they were warned about this FTA with China by the Green’s who voted against it. Globalisation has the benefit of bringing cheap products into the world market – but at the huge cost of degraded labour laws, depreciating wages, and increasing slavery, and degrading environment.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Globalisation has the benefit of bringing cheap products into the world market

                    It doesn’t do that at all as it’s physically impossible to do that. What it does, because of the delusion of the financial system, is make it look as if it brings cheap products on to the market.

                    As you say though – the cost of those cheap products is very high. Slavery, murder, corruption and a destroyed environment that soon won’t be able to support life on Earth.

                    • Macro

                      “it’s physically impossible to do that”
                      I understand what you are saying Draco
                      What I should have said was “inferior products onto the market masquerading as the original.”
                      The use of slave labour and sweat shops to produce inferior goods utilising inferior and less material means that these products can be supplied more cheaply than the original fit for purpose one.
                      The $10 shoes may look fit for purpose but the sole breaks after a week and the upper rips off in two.
                      So yes it is physically possible to produce cheap products – they just aren’t the same as the original one.

        • Ralf Crown 6.1.2.2

          Now there is such an uproar among the grassroots businesses in China that the entire FTA is at risk to be cancelled and more an more people want it cancelled. “Fu** New Zealand”, just parasites that want to take advantage of others, at least that is what is spreading. It is not just only the many New Zealand disasters as melamine, 1080, botulism, all kinds of contamination, and pollution, it is the attitude and constant blaming and mudslinging against Chinese. “Cheap Chinese steel” is just the latest, and there is an increasing pressure to stop all these cheap dairy products from New Zealand that been falsely sold as “high quality” to China for high rip-off prices. “Pure – Green and Clean”. B.S. there is hardly a single waterway or lake in New Zealand not seriously contaminated. New Zealand is reported to be the third dirtiest country in the world (UN figures) per capita, and at the same time it is falsely claiming to be clean and pure. Then we have the social disaster, that New Zealand is confiscating immigrant’s retirement saving, retired older people live in moldy, cold, unsanitary houses and have to make a choice between eating or keeping warm, they are living in poverty, some of the highest total tax takes in the world, people living in cars, children starving, etc. The cesspool is starting to stink, and of course Mr. Key lives in luxury. .

    • Phil 6.2

      WHEN a structure collapses (not IF) as a result of the inferior steel from China,

      And your qualifications in structural engineering are…?

      • mary_a 6.2.1

        @ Phil (6.2) I have no qualifications as a structural engineer.

        But I am able to rationalize if an inferior product is used to build anything which is expected to stand up to heavy duty use as in the case of bridges for instance, the nature of the beast stipulates its lifetime will be much shorter than that of a structure constructed from more superior material.

        • Phil 6.2.1.1

          Except they’re no longer building exactly the same bridge with weaker steel. They’re building a different design for two bridges to generate (presumably) the same structural outcomes as were originally required.

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/80635517/Chinese-steel-fails-strength-test

          The batch of below-strength steel forced a design rethink for two bridges along the section.

          The solution we have implemented includes a redesign of the steel tube piles, which are now being used as reinforced concrete piles for two of the bridges due to time constraints,” Dickens said in a statement.

          The roading contractor has since asked Steel & Tube to find replacement steel piles for two other bridges.

          So, yes, the steel in and of itself may be weaker, but the designers and engineers have redesigned bridges to meet the required specifications.

          • Macro 6.2.1.1.1

            and Phil – what about any other structures where engineers have used this steel in the mistaken belief that it was fit for purpose? Shouldn’t we be investigating that possibility? Or are we certain that this is the only instance of inferior product being brought in?

  7. s y d 7

    This steel is the tip of the iceberg I’m afraid.
    Copper piping failures in Wellington Hospital – DBH suing Fletchers.
    Brittle mesh reinforcing used in numerous NZ houses, again passed off by MBIE as OK because it’s only failed a bit.
    Who knows if any of the infinity cabling was sold into the NZ market….

    There are so many materials being imported with no controls, no oversight and no comeback. Importers are often only around for 2 or 3 years and then disappear.

    As for the motorway bridges, those designers are unwise. They will be the ones being held jointly and severally liable if anything goes wrong.

  8. Observer Tokoroa 8

    .
    . Employee Lay offs

    . It is always a sad thing when Workers are dumped from their Jobs. No matter in which country that happens, it causes hardship for those employees and their families.

    . The hardships of workers do not seem to worry Politicians or Parliaments. That is because they are about talk (and personal money making). they don’t actually work.

    I regret that Chinese Steel workers are being laid off. Most likely caused by flooding the world with their cheaper priced product.

    If Parliament had a concern they would have monitored production, looked at production data from other countries and thereby saved the Workers from a heart thumping loss of employment.

    But even that would not have stopped unemployment, because most workers do not have charge of the distribution of product. In fact, workers have very little say in anything. And that is a huge drawback for every citizen.

    It is essential that Workers have the means to lobby their respective Parliaments and make them responsible for decent conditions and compensations for loss of jobs.

    The Politicians will hate this. Because they will be distracted from making personal wealth and fame for themselves. However, given the neglect of Parliaments and the greed of Corporations we need a world wide body to look after Workers.

    The United Nations of Workers. (No vetoes permitted).

    Workers are the most important group of individuals that a nation has. Their importance is also world wide. It is time for a United Nations of Workers. The people who do the work telling the Corporations what they must do in matters that affect Workers. It will be a reversal of what happens now.

    • Sabine 8.1

      yes, there is a realization among unions that there is a need to go global. No matter how much one fights here, it serves no purpose if the effort is undercut elsewhere.

  9. Venezia 9

    The story of the CTV building In Christchurch is still being played out. Most of the people who died in the 22 Feb 2011 earthquake lost their lives in this building. There is enough known already about dodgy dealings from the 1980s when it was built, and the shoddy post earthquake assessments, for this to be a lingering saga of shame in relation to NZs building standards. About time people with power were held accountable. Will the dodgy Chinese steel be another version? and who will be liable?

    • dukeofurl 9.1

      The building code wasnt at fault, it was established that the design done by the engineer/consultants should have never been approved.
      It was supposed to be a cheap spec building, so the pressure was on a low cost design. As well the builders site ‘engineer’ stole the identity of a qualified engineer

  10. RedLogix 10

    Steel and Tube have known about sub-standard Chinese steel for at least five years now. I heard this directly from a senior manager.

    When I asked him why his answer was that if they didn’t sell it, the Chinese had told him that they would be put out of business. No subtle hints or plays; just a blunt direct threat to shut them out of the game.

    Over and again the Chinese have proven to be untrustworthy. Only a fool does business with them and Labour’s FTA with NZ is the disaster I predicted it would be at the time. It is the one big thing I really think Helen Clark got wrong. Badly wrong.

    I’ve just come back from a work trip in a SE Asian country and what is stunning in retrospect was the number of moments when someone expressed, unbidden, an extreme dislike for the way Chinese do business. Essentially everything is based on a trusted inner circle of friends and family, and everyone else is fair game to be fucked over.

    We would never tolerate the same lack of ethics and standards from a Western trading partner, so why the hell do we put up with such low expectations from the Chinese?

    • Ad 10.1

      Let’s unpack that main point about a “trusted inner circle of friends and family, and everyone else is fair game to be fucked over…”

      Is that really different in any country? Indonesia. Malaysia. Singapore. Australia. Philippines.

      One of Bruce Jesson’s early books had an actual map of how just a few companies and their inter-bred shareholder families controlled most of the major private industry in New Zealand. Perhaps it’s less so now, but I don’t move in .5% circles.

      I’m certainly not disputing your experience. But I’m asking whether that’s a reflection on China’s commercial dominance within South East Asian countries, rather than something specific to China.

      • RedLogix 10.1.1

        All cultures do “inner circle/outer circle” to some degree. Commerce is by nature competitive and the elites will always recognise their own. But the Chinese have earned a reputation for making an extreme art form of it.

        A few months back a European company Volkswagen fucked up and from the reaction you’d think Western civilisation had just collapsed in a bloody heap. If it had been a Chinese company few would have noticed and certainly no-one would have expected any better.

        Or at a more local level here in Australia, there is an on-going issue with the volumes of baby formula milk powder being hoovered up off supermarket shelves by Asian students and mailed back to family and friends in China. This business has so much volume that at times it has created local shortages and supermarkets have had to restrict buyer quantity per purchase. I’ve seen it happening with my own eyes. There are several local businesses here in town specialising in packaging and mailing it.

        It’s not a cheap way to buy something that is readily available in markets in China, but the crucial point is that the Chinese do not trust their own commerce and would sooner pay more for something purchased via a channel they know personally.

        • Ad 10.1.1.1

          That last point is the good one.

          I’ve heard how hard this Chinese Premier is going at cracking down on corruption for many years now. But it will never wash the stain away.

          So long as New Zealand retains its own competitive advantage for its own products, we still have some small hope.

          Since I’m pretty close to the infrastructures players, I know of companies who have really been hit by this.

          NZTA are adding all this to their procurement frameworks.

      • Ralf Crown 10.1.2

        In China, Guanxi – trust, is the basis of everything. Kiwis think it comes with the birth certificate. No wonder New Zealand is called “scammers paradise” and “Nigeria of the South Pacific”. There is always another sucker around the corner.

    • Ralf Crown 10.2

      You are describing New Zealand very well there. New Zealand pay for substandard steel, they get substandard steel compared to the need.

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