A delay by the ESB in removing overhead cables to facilitate house-building in Waterford city cost the taxpayers €1.5 million in compensation to the contractor. And another contractor, in similar circumstances, was paid €450,000.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Cllr Seamus Ryan described the revelation, in a statutory audit report to the members, as ‘extraordinary and unacceptable’.
The report, for 2008, said that, early that year, the Council completed a scheme of 125 social and affordable houses at a total cost of €19 million. The final account for the scheme recorded payments to the contractor of approximately €1.5 million for disruption due to delays in the removal of overhead electrical cables.
A condition in the standard state contract for building works allows a contractor make a legitimate claim when his work is disrupted and, in this instance, the continued presence of the ESB lines during the construction phase had not been detailed in the contract documents. Thus the contractor was allowed claim for disruption to his work programme as the building site was effectively split into two separate sections by the cables.
Repeated efforts
City Manager Michael Walsh said that, despite repeated efforts by the Council, there was a seven month delay from the time the ESB was initially due to remove the cables, until they actually did so.
Cllr Ryan complained that the bill fell on the taxpayers and he was not assuaged by Director of Services Lar Power informing him that the money was recouped from the Department of the Environment. “The taxpayer still foots the bill, one way or the other and it’s not good enough”, he insisted.
See The Munster Express newspaper for full match report.