In an article in Newsroom this week it was reported that:
In stages this led to the Construction Sector Accord between the sector and the Government last April and their Construction Sector Transformation Plan launched in January. This is focused on six areas: leadership; business performance; people development; health, safety and wellbeing; regulatory environment; and procurement and risk.
These sorts of agreements are really important. Once again, I hope that Government has learned from their experience with SCIRT. At NZTA we had experienced a structure like SKIRT in Auckland and recommended that it be implemented for the huge rebuild which was happening in Christchurch.
There was a great warning in Newsroom last week about dogma over-ruling sensible advice. The Transmission Gully project is coming unstuck. In this article https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/07-05-2020/the-transmission-gully-fiasco-should-call-time-on-the-folly-of-ppps/ the author is noting how unstable this very expensive project really is.
Amongst the issues he quite correctly raises are:
- The costs have blown out to over $1b.
- 100 of the staff working on the project are overseas and cannot return at this time.
- The earthworks required 50% more earthworks than budgeted.
- Large sections of the road had to be re-laid.
- Tolls are going to be dropped.
I was on NZTA as this road was being considered. It was imposed on the Board by Steven Joyce. It never made sense, and even with the best scrambling of numbers possible, its Benefit/Cost ratio was below 1. That means it’s a project which should never have been built.
I remember asking one of the engineers about the fact that the fault line goes right up Transmission Gully. We had just experienced the Canterbury Earthquakes, and this was in the front of my mind. The engineer said that fault lines were easy to plan for. As I read this article I wondered if the enhanced engineering knowledge post our quakes might have been part of why the earthworks increased by 50%.
National Transport spokesman Chris Bishop accepted that the Transmission Gully project would be delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown. But then he stated:
“However, a two-year extension to the timeline would be excessive and is extremely concerning at a time when we need to invest and build in vital pieces of infrastructure to get the economy going again.”
My response to this would be for Chris Bishop to have a quiet chat to some of us who were around when this project was imposed on this Country.
It was also interesting to read comments by the Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Nick Leggett, about the Transmission Gully project, when he confirmed he had heard “rumours” of lay-offs and lockdown-related delays, but not of a potential pull-out by the project’s JV partners.
He then showed, in my opinion, that he is uneasy with a Labour Government when he said:
“In the final straight of construction of such a large project, which was due to be completed by the end of this year, it is a worry to hear that contracts for supply and equipment have been cut, and workforce numbers reduced.”
In other words, the private sector will be innocent and the public sector completely to blame. This is complete nonsense. The project was ill thought through. It never made sense. It was imposed on the Country by a Government, against advice from NZTA. The contractors were mere pawns in an ideological debate that PPP’s had certain magical elements which, in this case but not always, didn’t exist.
This project is a warning about cost blow-outs for projects like stadiums, or Convention Centres. Where Local or Central Government end up with the blown-out bill, and the expensive “advisors” who assisted with the decision-making process are long gone spending their ill-gotten gains in some overseas tax-free island.
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