"I have participated in many emergency construction projects, yet this has been by far the most intense."
Liu Lei, who heads the traffic-directing team at the Central Government-Aided Emergency Hospital construction project in Lok Ma Chau, made these remarks to China Daily on Thursday.
Since arriving in Lok Ma Chau on March 6, the day the project kicked off, the veteran construction worker has been working 18-hour days, starting as early as 7:30 am and not finishing until 2 to 3 am.
"Each day has been memorable for me, and all of us have faced pressures resulting from the epidemic, monsoon season, high heat and weariness," he said.
It was very intense. There was no concrete road, all dirt ground, and it then became muddy on rainy days. But the progress couldn't afford to be delayed, so we carried on.
Liu Lei, head of the traffic-directing team at the Central Government-Aided Emergency Hospital construction project in Lok Ma Chau
Responsible for organizing and directing traffic on the construction site, Liu said it was a bumpy road at first. "It was very intense. There was no concrete road, all dirt ground, and it then became muddy on rainy days. But the progress couldn't afford to be delayed, so we carried on."
READ MORE: Different uniform, same aspiration
The average daily traffic flow at the peak of the project reached 2,883 vehicles, with over 400 pieces of equipment and more than 20,000 personnel involved in the construction. With no automated system on-site, all traffic is directed verbally through loudspeakers, according to the company.
The hard work has weighed on the builders, with quite a few catching colds or having sprains, including Liu himself, he said, coughing now and then. Fortunately, these conditions can be cared for well at the on-site medical facility, he added.
"Many of us on-site are very hardworking. We are here for the same goal and there's a timeline. The reason I came here is that all men bear responsibility for the needs of the country. As for myself, I came because it is just my duty."
Born in Tangshan, Hebei province, in North China, and in the construction business for 15 years, Liu confessed that his family is always in his mind. "I miss them very much. I have a 4-month-old daughter in my hometown, as well as my wife. I haven't seen them since the Lunar New Year."
The husband and father said he tries to squeeze in a moment to have a video call with his loved ones every day. "They aren't long, only 10 minutes or so."
"I hope the pandemic will end soon. All of us have poured a great deal of effort into building the hospital," Liu said, adding that he looks forward to reuniting with his family after the construction is complete. "It won't be long."
ALSO READ: Craft of hope
As one of the anti-epidemic facilities under full support from the central government, construction at Lok Ma Chau Loop – organized by China Construction Science and Industry Corp – involves building a hospital for emergency use, as well as community isolation and treatment facilities.
The mega project, to provide 1,000 negative-pressure beds, is being built in two phases. The first phase, providing 500 beds, was completed from March 6 to April 5, and handed over to the special administrative region authorities on Thursday. The second phase will be finished at the end of April.