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Page MP Kevin Hogan, bridge contractor Nathan, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, move the ‘road closed ahead’ barrier to mark the opening of the new Romiaka Channel Bridge to traffic in early November. Image: Geoff Helisma

Romiaka Channel Bridge in dispute

Geoff Helisma |

The new Romiaka Channel Bridge, recently opened to traffic by local federal and state MPs Kevin Hogan and Chris Gulaptis, is the subject of a dispute between the contractor, Delaney Civil, and Clarence Valley Council (CVC).

At last week’s November 20 CVC meeting, a report on the matter was tabled for discussion in a confidential session – in accordance with the Local Government Act, as recommended by the general manager – on the basis that “the report contains commercial information of a confidential nature that would, if disclosed, prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied it”.

Clues as to what constitutes the dispute are described in the item listing, which refers to “Liquidated Damages and Contractor’s Variation Claims”.

Councillors also considered and endorsed the payment of additional management fees “associated with the increased delivery timeframe of the bridge” to NSW Public Works (a NSW Government entity).
When the bridge’s construction was commissioned by councillors, they resolved to pay a total (upper limit) fee of $229,451, excluding GST, to NSW Public Works, now known as Public Works Advisory (PWA).

Rebecca Fox, PWA’s acting executive director, describes on PWA’s website why PWA is a good choice to manage substantial infrastructure projects: “PWA supports local and state government agencies to deliver critical infrastructure initiatives by providing expert advisory, planning, delivery and support services.

“We bridge the gap between the government and the private sector, helping clients to maximise value, optimise costs and manage risks in their infrastructure programs and the lifecycle management of their assets.”

At the meeting, councillors delegated “authority to the General Manager to negotiate an outcome on the Contractor’s claims with a view to minimise the cost to Council”.

Responding to the Independent’s enquiry, CVC’s works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said the council “does not comment on contractual matters”.

The Australian and NSW governments each contributed $1.73million towards the estimated $3,901,736 project, including a 10 per cent contingency of $293,844.

Clarence Valley Council contributed $439,736.