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Construction chaos hits capital

Date

Noel Towell

A worker at the Nishi building site expresses his displeasure at being photographed by The Canberra Times on Wednesday.

A worker at the Nishi building site expresses his displeasure at being photographed by The Canberra Times on Wednesday. Photo: Karleen Minney

There have been two days of chaos in Canberra's building industry with several sites shut down or stalled because of safety disputes, a compliance blitz and a large sub-contractor going broke.

Work at the city's highest profile residential development, Nishi, at New Acton, will be stopped after a full-scale blitz by the work safety authority on Wednesday morning and at least two major ACT government road-building projects will be affected by the collapse on Tuesday of a civil engineering firm with debts of more than $1 million.

A building job at a defence installation at the NSW border was disrupted on Tuesday and another one at the Kingston Foreshore was shut down on Wednesday amid fears about potentially deadly asbestos.

Workplace safety officers Alan Chipperfield and Mark McCabe are part of a team of officers that made a suprise visit to the Nishi building site in Canberra on Wednesday.

Workplace safety officers Alan Chipperfield and Mark McCabe are part of a team of officers that made a suprise visit to the Nishi building site in Canberra on Wednesday. Photo: Karleen Minney

Victoria-based Bridge and Marine was placed in liquidation on Tuesday afternoon and The Canberra Times understands that sub-contractors owed money by the bridge-building specialists had walked off the road-building jobs.

Bridge and Marine was the civil engineering sub-contractor for ACT government road projects at Horse Park Drive in Gungahlin and the widening of Parkes Way in Civic.

The firm, which also owes debts from the now completed widening of the Monaro Highway in Fyshwick, was not answering its phones on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) department said officials would meet the head contractor on the Parkes Way project, Woden Contractors, to establish if the insolvency would delay the road's completion.

''The ACT government's legal relationship is with the head contractor,'' the spokesman said.

''There will be discussions as soon as practical with the head contractor to determine if there will be any impact on project delivery.''

A Kingston Foreshore landscaping site was shut down and up to 10 workers sent home on Wednesday morning after building union the CFMEU called in WorkSafe inspectors to look at concerns about asbestos deposits that have dogged the construction of the upmarket lakeside neighbourhood for several months.

With eight inspectors committed to the authority's operation at Nishi, the foreshore site could not be evaluated until Thursday morning.

The ACT government has promised to hire 12 more inspectors as part of its response to an official inquiry into safety on Canberra's building sites.

Land Development Agency chief executive David Dawes said no danger to the public posed at the Kingston site.

''A representative of the company responsible for ensuring compliance with the Environmental Management Plan was on site at the time of the CFMEU intervention and has advised that there were no breaches of any environmental or OH&S regulations,'' Mr Dawes said.

''At no time has any member of the public been in any danger and work will not recommence on the site until the appropriate authorities have given the site the all clear.''

At a building job at naval base HMAS Harman, across the NSW border, workers were sent home early on Tuesday after an another intervention by the CFMEU which alleged that asbestos on the site was not being safely treated.

An environmental inspector called into the base recommended air monitoring, dust suppression and exclusion zones at the site but said that it was safe for work to recommence.

A John Holland site official at the defence installation said he had voluntarily sent his men home early on Tuesday as a precautionary measure and that the site was working safely again on Wednesday.

1 comment

  • Why would you publish this photo? It has nothing to do with the construction safety in Canberra. It's a picture of a rude man. I'm sick to death of people stereotyping the construction industry. My husband is in the construction industry and is a hard working, decent man, as most members of the industry are. Please stick to the facts and don't try and create an image which is not reflective of the industry!

    Commenter
    Kaisers mum
    Location
    Jerra
    Date and time
    December 06, 2012, 10:04PM
    Comments are now closed
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