Tender documents were issued before Christmas and works are due to begin during the summer. A sum of €4m had been approved in March 2014 but the most ‘economically advantageous’ of the few tenders received came in at well above that figure. An assessment showed ‘very significant risks’ in proceeding with this bid, which could have exposed the State to ‘substantial additional costs’.
John followed up his PAC comments with the Department in November. Not satisfied with the response, he made fresh representations to Minister Simon Coveney, seeking ‘certainty’ for the local community and a commitment of both funding and intent to finally dredge the inner harbour, where a 20-year build-up of silt and sludge has greatly restricted access.
Now, a revised ‘envisaged timeframe’ expects tenders to be assessed and a contractor appointed this spring. A ‘mobilisation period’ should be followed by work on-site this summer.
John says: “I think the Minister’s approval of this increased funding shows that the Department is intent on getting this dredging done once and for all. Doing so would at least help make the harbour fit for purpose and have a confidence-building effect within the local economy.”
Certainty was sought from Minister
- After raising it at the Public Accounts Committee, John went back to Department officials seeking a concrete dredging timeframe. Told that “the precise commencement date, duration of the works and disposal options are dependent on the new tender process and the methods proposed by the contractors tendering”, John contacted Simon Coveney directly, seeking certainty that funding would be made available once the additional assessment of the dredge spoil, and the re-tendering, were completed.
- According to the Department, “one of the main issues which militated against a successful outcome was the fact that the tender process took place quite late in the year which was not conducive to achieving the optimum value for money tender. This in turn resulted in a tender period that was too short. In addition a longer mobilisation period would have been beneficial.”