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A handrail was partially installed on the unfinished Romiaka Channel Bridge’s pedestrian walkway last week. Steel fabricating firm Wicks and Parker were onsite completing the handrail as the Independent went to press. A spokesperson confirmed they were under contract to Delaney Civil. Image: Geoff Helisma

Romiaka bridge dispute continues

Geoff Helisma |

A railing was partially installed on the unfinished Romiaka Channel Bridge on Tuesday March 19; however, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) was seemingly unaware of who was doing the work.

At last week’s Clarence Valley Council Corporate, Governance and Works Committee meeting, Cr Peter Ellem said he saw a crane working on the bridge when he was “coming down to the meeting”.

“I was wondering; what are those works?” he asked Works and Civil director Troy Anderson.

“I’m advised they were placing handrails on the bridge today, which haven’t been in place as part of the works,” Mr Anderson said.

The committee’s chair, Cr Karen Toms, said councillors “were told the contractors had walked away” and asked if the contractors, Delaney Civil, or CVC were doing the work.

Mr Anderson said he would have to take the question on notice.

“I don’t believe any of our staff have been there today,” he said.

Cr Toms: “…Are you saying the contractors are back?”

Mr Anderson: “I’ll have to take that on notice.”

These questions were the result of councillors receiving a late, amended works report – the original did not include the bridge’s progress.

The bridge was removed from the works report following the September round of council meetings.

The Independent has unsuccessfully asked why on several occasions.

Cr Toms said it was her “understanding the bridge has not been in the works report for a little while”, when asking the general manager, Ashley Lindsay, why the report was late.

Mr Lindsay said he had noticed that the “Romiaka Bridge status wasn’t included” and asked staff to produce a “revised works report”.

Cr Toms asked Mr Anderson to explain.

Mr Anderson said “it was just a line inserted into the report that gave an updated status … it does flag works are incomplete and further negotiations with the contactor”.

Cr Toms said she recalled from the February councillor workshop “that we were told” the dispute with Delaney Civil “had finished”.

“So is it still happening, the negotiations regarding Romiaka Bridge?” she asked.

Mr Anderson: “Yes, Madam Chair; I don’t recall the discussion at the February workshop, but yes, the discussions are still ongoing.”

The works report advised councillors that “there are a number of project items to be completed to complete the contract”.

It advised that $3,698,523 of the $3,901,736 budget had been spent, but flagged “a number of contractual issues … that are yet to be resolved” and that “there are potential cost implications for the project related to the contractual issues”.

“Council is meeting with the contractor and Public Works Advisory [PWA] to attempt to resolve the issues,” the report stated.

Delaney Civil’s contract was for $3,232,285 (GST inclusive) and state and federal governments each provided $1.31million grants towards the project.

The council contributed $439,736, to primarily cover project costs, including land acquisitions and licences, review of environmental factors, environmental offsets and site monitoring by traditional owners, at an estimated cost of $ 390,000.

Meanwhile, in a confidential session at the November 2018 CVC meeting, councillors unanimously supported paying PWA an undisclosed sum to cover “management fees associated with the increased delivery timeframe of the bridge” and delegated authority to the general manager to negotiate with Delaney Civil, “with a view to minimise the cost to council”.

That meeting’s confidential report discussed “additional project management costs, liquidated damages and contractor’s variation claims”.

A PWA spokesperson has previously told the Independent it would not comment and to direct questions to CVC.

Public Works Advisory charged CVC $229,451 (ex GST) plus the “undisclosed sum” to manage the project.

While summing up at the committee meeting, Cr Toms said she recalled “asking specific questions and getting specific answers [at the February workshop], which are quite different to, perhaps, what is happening today”.

“But it’s great to see someone there putting handrails on,” she said.

This item was tabled at yesterday’s full meeting of council, which was after the newspaper’s print deadline.