COUNCIL officials have ruled out imposing penalties on contractors who run over time on projects, describing it as ‘unworkable’.
This follows the recent announcement that the N71 roadworks between Clonakilty and Lisselane will now finish in May 2019 – a whole six months later that originally scheduled.
And one Council engineer described the original timeline as ‘ambitious’.
At a meeting of the Municipal District of West Cork in Clonakilty recently, councillors were highly critical of the six-month delay.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said the works were advertised as being due to finish on November 23rd but that this has now been put back to May 2019.
‘We had praised Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) for their level of communication, but this has come out of nowhere,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan. ‘Why is it being pushed back to May and why did they get it so wrong – by six months?’
He queried if penalties could be imposed on contractors who run over time where the levies collected could then be put back into the local community.
‘We need some payback over this six months misjudgement,’ he said,
Senior executive engineer Michael Tobin said that the contractor’s programme was intended to finish in November but that was ‘ambitious’, and that he has received a revised programme.
‘It would be very difficult to levy penalties on contractors as, by the very nature of the road, it has been a difficult job.
Also, the weather doesn’t help either, and it’s not the best time of the year for re-surfacing, with January and February not being great months,’ said Mr Tobin.
‘If penalty clauses were to be imposed, all that would happen is that rates will go up across the board and there is a limited market of people available to do the job.’
He added that the scale of the job and the resources are a major issue with this project.
‘There’s more work about now and contractors haven’t the capacity for all the work to be done.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) was also critical of the delay and said that councillors are trying to keep the lines of communication open with the business people of Clonakilty.
‘It’s not satisfactory that we are almost the last to know this news. We would like to know the knock-on effects of this delay and we need to also know the sequence of events,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr O’Sullivan also asked if the contractors in the town would be pulling out over the Christmas period as he said ‘we’re pretty much in the dark’ in relation to information on this.
Mr Tobin said the contractors will be carrying out works on drainage, kerbs and footpaths between now and December 21st and that they will be off site from that date to January 14th. Surface works will then commence from February 28th to April 12th.
Cllr Hayes also asked if these works before Christmas could be done in the evening to minimise traffic disruption. He welcomed the fact that the Kent St car park is now re-open and works completed, as agreed, by December 1st.
Cllr O’Sullivan said that they now have a better picture of where the works stand and they would give them back to the community. However, he said that if there are no penalties being imposed, they would be setting a very dangerous precedent.
‘At the very least, they should be putting something back into the community like the Greenway,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who added that, despite the setback with the N71 works, the town of Clonakilty is ‘very much open for business.’