Barge not responsible for collision with Tsing Ma Bridge, HK court rules

A barge that smashed into Tsing Ma Bridge, temporarily halting all links from the city to Hong Kong airport, was not at fault, a Hong Kong court has ruled.
West Kowloon Court concluded that Winway Engineering Ltd had taken all reasonable precautions and that tugboat captain Lai Muk-hei should bear full responsibility.
The incident prompted calls for the government to establish alternative transport links to the airport. The collision triggered an alarm system that closed the Kap Shui Mun plus Tsing Ma bridge sections of the Lantau Link. Thousands of travellers were left stranded, with Lantau Island and the airport effectively cut off from the rest of the city
On Monday magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai said that “the collision was the result of [the tugboat captain’s] obvious violation of law,” that he ‘may have ignored the height limit’, that he had sole control of the tow and had designed the route that evening. The towed vessel was marked with red and white stripes on its derrick boom, which the magistrate said should have warned the tug captain it was restricted from entering the Kap Shui Mun Bridge area. He found it “very unbelievable” that Lai would be unaware of such restrictions as claimed, given his 17 years in the trade.
Wong concluded the only reason for Lai to have decided to travel through Kap Shui Mun was convenience, as the route would be at least 15 minutes faster than had he gone through Tsing Ma.
The magistrate found that dumb lighter owner Winway Engineering Limited could not have expected a tugboat captain of Lai’s experience, who was entrusted by the main contractor, to commit “such blatant breach of law” by ignoring its markings. He subsequently cleared the company of one summons of colliding with Kap Shui Mun Bridge within the Kap Shui Mun Bridge area, and granted costs to the defence.
Lai and tugboat owner Wing Yip Engineering Works Limited had each pleaded guilty to one summons of the same charge. The two parties are to be sentenced on April 11th.