Waimakariri capital works programme lagging behind

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Capital works problem . . . The Waimakariri District Council is significantly behind schedule on capital works projects due to the labour shortage and wider supply chain issues. PHOTO: SUPPLIED / WAIMAKARIRI DISTRICT COUNCIL

By Adam Burns, Local Democracy Reporter

Building managers at the Waimakariri District Council are disappointed the delivery of major capital works continues to lag behind as they contend with an arduous construction environment.

A number of projects within its $70 million capital works programme remain significantly off the pace as resourcing constraints and supply
chain factors continue to stretch council thin.

There is concern the program could be as low as 66 per cent done by the end of June, after a quarterly update was presented to council’s audit and risk committee on Tuesday.

‘‘Resourcing is certainly hitting and affecting our ability to deliver the program,’’ council senior engineering advisor Don Young said.

Utilities and roading manager Gerard Cleary said council needed to be careful of overcommitting when developing the annual plan, as resourcing issues ‘‘would not be going away overnight’’.

‘‘We’ve lost quite a few senior engineers and in the consulting industry they’re equally as stretched,’’ he said.

‘‘We are disappointed with how this year’s capital works delivery is go ing.”

Cleary said council have taken on graduate-level staff to help with the workload.

‘‘It’s really hard to get senior engineers and that’s probably where we’ve suffered the most,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a crazy market out there.’’

Adding further headaches was pricing issues as a result of a tight
construction market, contractor availability and “extreme pressure” on the supply chain.

“Most of the recent tenders have had one or two respondents only, and almost all of them are significantly over budget,” the capital works quarterly report said.

Councillor Sandra Stewart was unsympathetic at the meeting to the issues and appealed for assurances upcoming work would be completed on time.

‘‘I don’t mean to put the boot in… but the refrain is very familiar,’’ she said.

‘‘That process is being put in place that will virtually guarantee that you deliver far better than this, given the environment out there.’’

Deputy mayor Neville Atkinson jumped to the defence of staff and said many of the factors were out of their control.

‘‘How you’re even going to price something, or get a timeline out of a contractor is just about impossible,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s some realities around this which we have to accept, that in the next year or two there will be movement and we may not get some things done, because of what is out there in this environment.

‘‘No resourcing, higher prices and no guarantee of timelines…these guys are managing all of it the best they can.’’