Workers enticed away from prom

Friday 16th July 2021 10:00 am
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Douglas Promenade regenerations works - Loch Promenade, looking north from Granville Street

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Workers have been lured away from the beleaguered Douglas Promenade scheme by higher pay elsewhere.

The problem has led to another setback for the project and the Department of Infrastructure has had to intervene.

It also means the planned completion date has now moved to the end of September.

In order to help to speed up completion, the DoI has taken over parts of the project from the contractor Auldyn Construction and is delivering these with other resources.

Following completion, Auldyn has a further four weeks to correct defective work, and the company is working alongside the rail corridor designer, Burroughs Stewart Associates, to prepare a proposal to correct the concrete defect before the end of this period.

According to documents available on My Prom, the DoI ’Started enabling work in September 2018’ with the whole scheme due to be completed ’Within two years, including the installation of the new tram lines’.

In theory, with the completion date now having moved to the end of September, once the four-week period for correction of defective work is also taken into consideration, the actual opening of the newly refurbished promenade could be as late as October - over three years after work started.

A number of ’unforeseen challenges’ have been blamed for the delay - including Covid-19 restrictions early on in the scheme and the impact these had on accessing labour resources from off-island.

Auldyn has had difficulty getting staff to work on the project, as the construction company outsources much of the building work to subcontractors, something which has been made increasingly difficult during the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the DoI said that as the building industry is ’red hot’ in the island at the moment.

Many subcontractors are taking other local jobs which will pay more.

As a result, the DoI will be acting as a subcontractor for Auldyn, by taking on some of the work to assist in the regeneration project, in the same way that existing subcontractors are employed.

Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker MHK said: ’Although I am extremely disappointed at this setback, the department will continue to do all it can to assist Auldyn in this final push for the end.

’A pragmatic and constructive dialogue continues with the company on finishing as soon as possible, but we will not allow the quality of the finished product to be compromised at this stage.’

Mr Baker added: ’I recognise the effort and commitment of all parties to get this project concluded, and appreciate that many people, particularly those involved in businesses, are looking forward to our community enjoying its newly-refurbished promenade.’

Speaking on Manx Radio, Mr Baker said that the further delays will not be at the expense of the taxpayer.

He also explained that Auldyn Construction will be subject to financial penalties as a result of the delays.

He said: ’There’s a value for each day that the scheme takes longer [than planned to be completed], so it’s in the contractors interest to get this finished.

’We are not paying more for this longer scheme.’

The promenade regeneration scheme - once finished - will be the first major reconstruction of the highway along the waterfront since 1935.

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