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Technical hitch bars Irish road bidders

NEWS

AN IRISH/UK joint venture has been awarded a £35.2M road contract in Ireland after all the other bids for the job were disqualified over an apparent technicality.

A joint venture between Mowlem and Cork-based Bowen won the Watergrasshill-Glanmire road contract near Cork city after the competition failed to complete a recently amended section in the Irish government's standard 'Condoc' contract.

The amendment requires that a form be submitted to prove the contractor would obtain a bond if its tender was successful. The new document states explicitly that failure to fill in this form would invalidate a tender.

'The change was highlighted in the tender documents sent out, ' said National Roads Authority (NRA) engineer Tim Ahern. But he said he believed the omission to complete the documentation by the seven tenderers was accidental.

Previously, contractors commonly submitted letters of intent from insurance companies. But Ireland's National Roads Authority was believed to have become concerned that different conditions included in the letters by insurance companies could create legal difficulties.

Some of Ireland's leading contractors were among the disappointed tenderers, including John Sisk, Ascon and Mulcair.

The contract was awarded within the NRA budget.

'Most of the tenderers understood our very rigid procedures and realise the level of tender discipline, ' said Ahern.

Some contractors are understood to have taken legal advice, but then decided against formal action.

Diarmaid Fleming lTurkish contractor GAMA Construction is being tipped to win the £48M Ballincollig Bypass. Irish National Road Authority sources said the firm intends to supply labour from Turkey with work due to start in September. GAMA provoked a rumpus with local Irish contractors who accused the firm of employing cheap labour last March after winning powerstation contract.

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