OVER 100 jobs are in jeopardy after the main contractor in the city’s Loreto Secondary School, extension job left the site on Monday without notice or warning. The school is carrying on as normal but with only 85% of the work completed on the refurbishment and extension, everyone involved in the E5.9 million project is anxious to have the work completed as soon as possible.
The sub-contractors who have been left in the lurch want answers and have issued a statement. Meanwhile, many of the northern based suppliers to the project removed their equipment and materials from the site before last week. The main contractor is McCann Bros (Ire), based in Omagh, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland. There was no reply from their phones yesterday (Tuesday) and a number of emails from the Kilkenny People to them were unanswered.
John McGuinness has been in constant contact with the Department of Education, voicing concerns about the abandonment, explaining, forcibly, the need to continue with the project. He wants the local subcontractors allowed back on site as soon as possible to finish the job, under the supervision of the design team who have also been left in limbo by McCanns.The Department has already intimated that it wants to re-tender the contract. “This will create serious problems for the sub-contractors and local suppliers who are owed money. If it is re-tendered then these people will lose out and their companies could go under with the loss of over 100 jobs and it will delay the completion with a knock-on effect for the school,” Deputy McGuinness said.
He is also unhappy that over the last four weeks, the main contractor, McCann Bros has removed much of its own equipment from the site and replaced it with locally supplied plant hire. “They planned their exit carefully and now local companies are getting caught,” he said. He is also at a loss to know why local building contractors were precluded from submitting tenders for the E5.8 million project. “This s bureaucracy gone mad and this would not have happened if a local firm was involved, I’m sure of that. Now the Minister for Education, Ruari Quinn must act quickly to ensure that the existing sub-contractors are brought back in to finish the job,” he demanded.
He made it clear that the department still had E2.9 million to pay out and that the matter could be resolved without going through a time consuming re-tendering process.
Principal of the Loreto, Mr Colm Keher said the school had no contact with McCanns since they left the site. He said that school was continuing as normal and that the school representatives would be meeting the Department about the issue this morning (Wednesday).
Deputy McGuinness has called on the Government to take action and also to immediately pass the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 so that hard-pressed sub-contractors can get some statutory support. “It will provide for a mechanism whereby prior notice of an intention to withhold payments due to contractors must be given. Not having this Bill in law is causing great distress and movement on the Bill is needed immediately,” he said.
:“This Bill has been in the parliamentary process since 2010 and it is about time it was signed into law. He called on Minister of State Brian Hayes to take direct action and speed up this process.
The local sub-contractors affected issued a statement to the Kilkenny People: We confirm a large group of local sub-contractors have been affected by the cessation of building work at the Loreto secondary school. There have been ongoing problems with payments to sub-contractors from the main contractor and as a result of the non payment close to 160 local jobs and families are affected.”