Sew­er­age project dis­ar­ray

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - News - Karen Hunt

QUES­TIONS have been raised about the man­age­ment of Wa­ter Corp’s Bridgetown in­fill sew­er­age project which has ground to a halt, leav­ing sub­con­trac­tors owed hun­dreds of thousands of dol­lars.

The project to con­nect 265 res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties to deep sew­er­age be­gan in March, 2017 and was due to be com­pleted by the end of this month.

While Wa­ter Corp says most con­struc­tion work is fin­ished, it also says only 50 prop­er­ties are able to con­nect to the cen­tral waste­water sys­tem.

“A com­bi­na­tion of poor weather, dif­fi­cult ground con­di­tions, un­fore­seen de­sign changes and con­trac­tual mat­ters have re­sulted in de­lays,” South West re­gional man­ager John Janssen said.

“We are work­ing with the prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor, Miluc, to man­age con­trac­tual con­di­tions, aim­ing to com­plete work in the next three months. Some re­in­state­ment work may con­tinue af­ter this time.”

Shire pres­i­dent Tony Pratico and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tim Clynch ex­pressed con­cern, claim­ing work had stopped while roads and verges were still in a haz­ardous state. No work had been done in the past two months, Mr Clynch said, and with the on­set of win­ter rains, some trenches had washed out and sec­tions of foot­paths were al­most col­laps­ing.

“In the in­ter­ests of pub­lic safety, shire staff are now com­pelled to carry out daily in­spec­tions of the trench lines and take ac­tion where re­quired,” he said.

Mr Clynch said he had raised con­cerns about traf­fic man­age­ment with Wa­ter Corp through­out the project and the coun­cil “con­tin­ues to re­quest that ur­gent ac­tion is taken”.

Cr Pratico said coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives met last week with South West MLC Adele Fa­rina to raise their con­cerns.

Calls to Miluc’s Wan­gara of­fice seek­ing com­ment have not been re­turned. The Manjimup-Bridgetown

Times on Fri­day spoke with a num­ber of sub­con­trac­tors who al­leged they were owed a to­tal of hun­dreds of thousands of dol­lars and some fear they may not be paid.

“We wouldn’t have given them (Miluc) credit if it wasn’t a Wa­ter Corp job,” Ray Jones said.

An­other man, who did not want to be named, said he hoped Wa­ter Corp would “step up and do the right thing” even though it may not be legally obliged to pay sub­con­trac­tors.

Sub­con­trac­tors also raised con­cerns about Wa­ter Corp’s due diligence amid ques­tions about the ten­der price.

Mr Janssen said he could not pro­vide de­tails be­cause the con­tract was com­mer­cially sen­si­tive but Miluc’s bid com­plied with all con­di­tions in­clud­ing health, safety and en­vi­ron­ment.

“I re­as­sure the lo­cal com­mu­nity we are con­tin­u­ing to li­aise closely with prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor, Miluc, to re­solve is­sues raised by its sub-con­trac­tors in Bridgetown,” he said.

Sub-con­trac­tors could pur­sue pay­ment from a prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor through the pay­ment dis­putes process un­der the Con­struc­tion Con­tracts Act (2004).

Warren Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man said Wa­ter Corp had ad­vised him that no pay­ments to Miluc were out­stand­ing.

He had asked for ad­vice from the Govern­ment about what it was do­ing to pro­tect small busi­nesses do­ing sub­con­tract­ing work.

“It is very dif­fi­cult for small re­gional busi­nesses to re­main vi­able when they are not paid for work un­der­taken,” Mr Red­man said.

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