The Year of the Rat (2020) – a year we’ll all remember!
Whilst the world grappled with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, local lockdowns, the almost complete shutdown of international travel and increasingly complex supply chain matters, at CDC we continued to support our clients in Hong Kong and around the world.
Despite the pandemic, 2020 has been another excellent year for CDC in terms of staff development. CDC started the year with a new addition to the team with Adrian Chan joining us. Adrian is a civil engineer with 10 years’ experience in construction management, project planning and dispute resolution on major projects. Adrian has been an excellent addition to the CDC team and we look forward to his ongoing development with the company.
During the year, we continued rolling out NEC training to the team with Simon Wilde, Gary Ho, Sunny Pang, Ivy Lam, Adrian Chan and Eric Cheung all completing the NEC 4 Project Management Accreditation Course. As more projects in Hong Kong are procured with NEC, we are now well positioned to support our clients with administration of the contract.
Another first for CDC was reached when we engaged our first intern. Kimberly Lu joined us for an internship assisting on dispute and claim issues across our portfolio.
The year closed with Simon Wilde being promoted to Managing Consultant. Simon has been with CDC since 2008 (one of our first three employees – all still with us) and we are very proud to see his continued development and growth with the company. Simon specialises in dispute and claims negotiation on complex projects for our Hong Kong clients.
New offices for a growing team
With the welcome growth in team size and increase in workload, we had again outgrown our offices. In March, in the middle of the COVID pandemic (and with Director David Feehan in quarantine), the team successfully moved to a larger office in Sheung Wan. The larger space has allowed us to provide services to a wider range of clients both in Hong Kong and internationally.
New clients, new projects, new delivery methods
2020 also saw CDC expand into a range of new projects both inside and outside Asia. Our workload included highways and bridges; numerous airport projects; subway stations; light rail; border facilities; power stations; hotel, leisure and cultural facilities; and residential property including assignments for new clients in the US, Canada and Hong Kong. CDC’s assignments covered contractual advice and claim identification on live projects; negotiation advice and assistance; mediation preparation and arbitration support on completed projects.
The breadth and range of CDC’s 2020 portfolio has shifted back to infrastructure projects (70%) rather than the building projects of previous years – reflecting changes in the Hong Kong market as some large infrastructure projects commence. This growth in infrastructure is expected to increase in the coming years as governments around the world commit to major infrastructure spending to bolster economies after COVID. Our work on live projects offering contractual and claim advice (as opposed to post completion dispute resolution work), was 50% of the portfolio.
The suspension of international travel demanded more remote working (even for our Hong Kong clients) with Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls becoming the new normal. Such methods were already deployed by CDC but attained far greater significance this year.
Our articles on the impact of COVID on Hong Kong and international projects issued in April and May were well received. Whilst Hong Kong projects initially avoided major impacts and shutdowns, as the year wore on, several of our clients experienced major COVID related suspensions whilst others struggled with material deliveries from worldwide suppliers. Notwithstanding the rollout of vaccines, the impacts of COVID on construction projects are likely to be felt throughout the coming years.
The CDC team (David Feehan, Gary Ho, Sunny Pang and Ivy Lam) also delivered our first webinar to one of our client’s construction staff – covering claims identification and dispute management using lessons learned from several key projects.
Several projects in which we have had involvement reached completion in 2020. In August, the Gerald Desmond Bridge in the Port of Long Beach, California opened to traffic. The bridge’s 305 metre main span will carry 15% of all goods coming into the USA across the entrance to the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles. The bridge was constructed to replace the existing 1968 arch bridge which has reached the end of its design life. CDC’s clients, SFI Joint Venture (Shimmick – FCC – Impregilo) and Lane Construction, delivered the replacement bridge for the Port of Long Beach and Caltrans under a design and build contract.
In Hong Kong, both the Liangtang Heung Yuen Wai Highway and the Tuen Mun Chek Lap Kok Tunnel opened to traffic. CDC have assisted contractors on both projects and we are proud to see all of these projects come to fruition after many years of hard work by all involved.
Unfortunately, with COVID severely impacting life in Hong Kong there was no opportunity for CDC and our clients to celebrate in person this year. We very much hope that all our team, our clients, and everyone’s loved ones remain safe and healthy and at some point in 2021 can once again meet up, renew friendships and look ahead to life after the pandemic. In the meantime, we wish you a Happy Chinese New Year and best wishes for the forthcoming Year of the Ox.